The Bharatiya Janata Party scored a historic win in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on Saturday. At 5.30 pm, the party had won 284 of the 403 seats and was leading in 28 more. This would be the highest tally for the party in India’s largest state.
But the benefits of the massive majority in Uttar Pradesh do not stop with the state legislature. Slowly but surely, this win will alter the composition of the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP and its allies are still in a minority.
This win, along with the results in Uttarakhand, will also strengthen BJP’s position in the President poll scheduled for July. The president is elected indirectly by parliamentarians and legislators from across India.
Rajya Sabha advantage
The Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of Parliament, has 250 seats. Currently, the BJP has 56, three behind the Congress’s 59. If BJP’s allies, which include parties like the Shiv Sena and Telugu Desam Party, are taken into account, the count goes up to 79, well short of the majority of 126.
Uttar Pradesh, owing to its population size, has the highest representation in the Rajya Sabha, with 31 members. Since the tenure in the Rajya Sabha is six years, 10 of the 31 seats in Uttar Pradesh will be vacant by 2019.
Given the landslide victory, the BJP will have eight of the ten seats in its pocket for certain. This apart, one seat in Uttarakhand and one in Goa also open up in early 2019.
As this analysis on Mint points out, of the 79 seats that go vacant by 2019 across India, the BJP currently holds 23 and Congress 21. The rest are divided between other parties including the Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Janata Dal (United) and Janata Dal (Secular). Of these 79, the BJP and its alliance partners could easily be expected to corner more than half.
But even with all these gains, a majority will still elude the BJP in the Rajya Sabha for a few years.
However, this increase in numbers will give the Centre more room to pass laws that might be deemed controversial by the Opposition since they would have a smaller gap to bridge to get a majority.
A greater representation in the legislatures and Parliament would mean there will not be much of a challenge to the BJP’s nominee for President when polls take place in July.