Members of the Rajya Sabha will elect the deputy chairperson of the Upper House on Thursday. The ruling coalition, the National Democratic Alliance, has named Janata Dal (United) leader Harivansh Narayan Singh its candidate while the Opposition parties have together fielded Congress’ BK Hariprasad.

The post of deputy chairperson has been vacant since Congress leader PJ Kurien retired in June.

Harivansh Narayan Singh is a first-time member while BK Hariprasad a three-time MP. Both sides have claimed the support of a majority of members. It is Singh, however, who is likely to have the support of 126 members – more than half of 244 MPs, PTI reported.

On Wednesday evening, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said his party, Biju Janata Dal, will support Singh in the election, PTI reported. The Biju Janata Dal has nine MPs in the Rajya Sabha. The party will support the JD(U) leader because both the JD(U) and BJD emerged from the same movement, and the Congress candidate was an Odisha leader who was vitriolic in his statements against the BJD, Patnaik said. He added there should be unanimity on constitutional posts.

The two members of the Peoples Democratic Party and the three members of the Aam Aadmi Party are likely to abstain from voting, NDTV reported. Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh said the party will not support the NDA candidate, and since the Congress has not asked for support, abstention is the only option.