Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has conveyed to the ruling dispensation that the House deputy chairman’s election process should be expedited and if possible, held during the current monsoon session of Parliament, which is due to end less than a week later.
A top leader of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) met Naidu last week and during their conversation, the vice-president spoke about the need to appoint a new deputy chairman early, a political functionary said on condition of anonymity. The ongoing session of Parliament, which opened on July 18, ends on August 10.
An official considered close to Naidu pointed out that the Rajya Sabha chairman had been working long hours; and although there exists a panel of presiding officers, a deputy chairperson would be able to ease his workload.
“He also told the leader that it would take just two days to finish the entire process of election,” said the functionary cited above.
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien of the Congress retired last month, necessitating the election that is decided by a simple majority. The Opposition has 113 members in the Upper House to the NDA’s 95, but the result will depend on how 32 fence sitters vote.
“By Monday it will be possibly clear whether the election will be held in this session or not,” a Rajya Sabha official said on condition of anonymity.
The arithmetic of the House is such that neither the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nor the Congress is in a position to elect a leader from its fold.
The names of Naresh Gujral from Shiromani Akali Dal, a part of the NDA, and Biju Janata Dal’s Prasanna Acharya are doing the rounds as possible candidates for the post. Both these leaders have an excellent equation with Naidu and with leaders cutting across political lines, a politician said.
When reached for comment, Gujral said: “I will be honoured if I am elected to the post but I will contest only if I am a consensus candidate. I feel that the person in the deputy chairman’s post must carry the entire House with him.”
A senior opposition leader said that although the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had pulled out of the NDA, its leaders had signalled that if Gujaral becomes a candidate, the party may back him because of TDP boss N Chandrababu Naidu’s association with Gujral’s father, the late former Prime Minister IK Gujral.
At a farewell programme for Kurien, Naidu had urged a consensus in selecting the next deputy chairman.
The ruling dispensation has not sent out any signal so far that it wants the deputy chairman’s election during the monsoon session primarily because the House rule book doesn’t stipulate any time frame for holding such polls.
First Published: Aug 05, 2018 07:12 IST
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