NEW DELHI: Battle lines for Rajya Sabha, which became sharper after the Bihar election win by JD(U)-RJD-Congress, would get redrawn a bit by the middle of the coming year.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) will have to shed a few Upper House seats to ally RJD, while Congress would gain little. The RS tally, in fact, will be a bit better for the BJP. The saffron party may gain one seat in Bihar and one in Andhra Pradesh, whereas Congress is set to lose three seats in its erstwhile southern bastion, while gaining nothing in Bihar, as it looks now. Bihar’s five seats that are falling vacant in 2016 — Sharad Yadav, KC Tyagi, Pavan Kumar Varma, Ramachandra Prasad and Gulam Rasool Balywai — are all from JD(U). But as the numbers in the Bihar assembly are stacked, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD, the single largest party, has a clear chance of winning two seats, JD(U) can be sure of one and would have to negotiate for a second; and BJP can be quite certain about one seat.
Congress has a slim chance of being offered a seat, as second preference votes are also in demand with the JD(U). This is because, a JD(U) source said, party heavyweights are retiring and its vote-share has come down. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav’s re-nomination may not be an issue, but for official spokesperson, K C Tyagi, the party will have to negotiate hard with ally RJD. Given the current bonhomie, that may not be a problem. But JD(U)’s sauve former diplomat Pawan Kumar Varma may have to be accommodated “in some other way, may be from Jharkhand or later”.
Of two sure-shot RJD seats, one will likely go to Lalu’s wife and former Bihar CM Rabri Devi, enabling the Yadav family to regain a bungalow in Luytens’ Delhi. Though it has also been reported that Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharathi will be nominated for the second seat, RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha says, “It’s all a media speculation.”. Lalu’s two sons, Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Yadav are already ensconced in the Nitish Kumar Cabinet.
Little wonder, Nitish’s election strategist Prashant Kishor says he’s taking a six-month break from politics and won’t vie for an RS seat. JD(U) sources quip their CM does not have “free seats to offer outsiders”.
Similarly, the chances of Lalu making a grand gesture towards his legal advisor, former Union Minister Kapil Sibal, are also bleak as he would rather give the extra votes to JD(U), than the Congress. Sibal, on his part, says he would rather contest the Lok Sabha polls from Delhi in 2019.