Ruling NDA nominee and JD(U) member Harivansh was elected as deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, securing 125 votes against 105 polled by opposition candidate BK Hariprasad. The post of the deputy chairman was lying vacant since the retirement of PJ Kurien on July 1.
The entire House congratulated Harivansh, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulating him on his election and, in a lighter vein, saying, “Ab sub kuch Hari bharose. Aur mujhe vishwas hai ke sabhi, idhar ho ya udhar, sabhi sansadon per Hari kripa bani rahegi (everything is now in the hands of Hari or God. And I am confident that every member, whether on this side or that side, will have his mercy).” Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also led the felicitations.
Soon after the election result was announced by chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, Jaitley, Azad and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ananth Kumar accompanied Harivansh to the seat designated for the deputy chairman in the House, which is next to that of the Leader of Opposition. Jaitley, who is recuperating after a renal transplant, attended the house after a long gap. Modi, Azad and several other MPs also welcomed Jaitley for attending the House.
The nomination of Harivansh was proposed by Ram Prasad Singh and seconded by union minister and RPI member Ramdas Athawale. BJP president Amit Shah, Shiv Sena’s Ranjay Raut and Akali Dal’s Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa were also among the proposers.
The voting was carried out twice as some members pointed out mistakes in the first polling. Result displayed for the first voting was 122 ayes, 98 nos, 2 abstainences. Total: 222. However, the final vote count was 125 votes in favour of Harivansh, 105 for Hariprasad along with two abstentions.
Most opposition parties feel their candidate could have got more votes in the polls for the post of deputy chairman Rajya Sabha had the Congress nominated a member from any of its supporting parties, even as they asserted that the NDA candidate’s victory was not a setback to their unity efforts against the BJP.
Though the Opposition is putting up a brave face, murmurs of dissatisfaction could be heard in Parliament galleries with some leaders questioning why Congress chief Rahul Gandhi did not reach out to parties like the AAP, just as Bihar chief minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar had done by calling up BJD and TRS leaders. Some leaders were of the opinion that a Congress member as opposition candidate closed the chances of getting votes from some parties who didn’t wish to be seen close to any camp. “If Congress had put up a non-Congress candidate or even decided to project someone from TDP or any other opposition party, then we could have gathered more votes,” said a senior Opposition leader.
“We still are united in our opposition to the BJP and NDA. Today’s result shows the desperation of the government. The PM had to be on phone to get votes for their candidate. The election is certainly not the end of the world for us. These are just the warm up matches for the world cup and it should be played and there the voters are different,” TMC’s Derek O’Brien said.