The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not have a Rajya Sabha seat from Jharkhand when the Narendra Modi-led government faces its next Lok Sabha test in 2024, after the state assembly election results on Monday.
However, the calculations suggest that if the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), which contested against the BJP in this state election, decides to extend support to the party, it could retain its current tally in the Upper House of Parliament.
Although the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government remains in minority in the Rajya Sabha, it has been able to clear crucial legislations including the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act due to factions within the Opposition ranks.
There are six Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand, and currently the BJP has three seats while the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have one each.
The sixth seat is held by an independent MP, industrialist Parimal Nathwani. Jharkhand will face biennial elections on two seats each in 2020, 2022 and 2024.
As there will be a direct contest between the BJP and the ruling alliance of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and RJD for the six seats of the Upper House, the current arithmetic in the state assembly has made contests intriguing.
Unlike assembly or Lok Sabha elections, where candidates are directly elected through popular votes, in a Rajya Sabha contest, the elected MLAs of the state assembly vote to pick a candidate. For Jharkhand, which has 81 MLAs in the assembly, any Rajya Sabha contestant would require at least or 28 MLAs [the formula is 81/(2+1) +1] to win a Rajya Sabha seat.
Till the time of going to press, the BJP's tally stood at 25, while the JMM and its allies had 47 seats. The JVM won three seats and the remaining six seats have gone to other candidates, many of whom belong to parties that are closer to the alliance than the BJP. This means that the BJP is likely to be three seats short of the number needed to win a seat each time the biennial Rajya Sabha election takes place in Jharkhand.
If the BJP can get JVM on its side, however, the equation can be altered. A BJP-JVM combination will have 28 MLAs and can bag three of the six seats that will go to the polls till 2024. In such a scenario, the BJP, which now has three Rajya Sabha MPs from Jharkhand, can improve its tally.
But if the current political situation prevails (the JVM has maintained distance from the BJP), the saffron outfit has little chance of winning any Rajya Sabha seat, and the JMM-Congress-RJD coalition can win all the six seats.
In the way the elections will be held, while the first candidate can win through direct votes, drama can be expected for the second seat each time voting happens. The JMM's alliance would clinch the first seat, but have only 19 extra MLAs in the election of the second seat, which will have to be decided by the second preference votes of the MLAs. There, too, the JMM-Congress-RJD will have an advantage over the BJP, as things stand.
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government is scheduled to gain majority in the Upper House by the end of 2021, but if the BJP fails to bag a single Rajya Sabha seat from Jharkhand, it may leave the NDA with a reduced majority over the Congress-led Opposition in the House.