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JD(U) adds to NDA’s Rajya Sabha bench strength

LiveMint logoLiveMint 30-07-2017 Gyan Varma

New Delhi: The monsoon session of Parliament began with the idea of a united opposition cornering the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). But the two weeks since then have seen the tables turned in favour of the government whose numbers in the Rajya Sabha have increased.

After the shift of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) from opposition ranks to the NDA, opposition unity against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems difficult.

Kumar ended his nearly 20-month alliance with Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress party last week and formed the government with the BJP.

Although the NDA is still in a minority in the upper house, the shift of 10 JD(U) lawmakers is expected to deal a setback to attempts made by the Congress party to bring all opposition parties under one umbrella. While the opposition is shrinking, more parties are joining the NDA or offering friendly support.

“We should look at a few developments together. First, the opposition parties faced a setback in the Uttar Pradesh elections, then there was an attempt to join hands in presidential and vice-presidential elections but that too didn’t work. Before the start of the monsoon session, the opposition had showcased the session as a test case for opposition unity, but the recent developments in Bihar would break opposition parties and also embarrass them,” said a senior BJP Rajya Sabha leader.

The rising graph of the NDA inside Parliament, especially the Rajya Sabha was visible during the presidential elections and is expected to continue during vice-presidential elections when many political parties which are not aligned to either the NDA or the Congress-led opposition may decide to join hands with the NDA. Among the parties which came forward to help NDA in both the elections are All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) and YSR Congress.

“AIADMK is a leaderless party and the party has always supported us. Similarly, there are other friendly parties who have officially not joined the NDA but they are not helping Congress also. This division both inside and outside Parliament would not only help BJP- led NDA but would also discredit the opposition parties,” the BJP leader added.

The immediate casualty of this has been the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament. “The monsoon session had started with focus on issues related to cow vigilantes and lynching, but now people are only talking about division in the opposition. If they can’t stand together, how can there be resistance against the NDA,” said the BJP leader.

The bigger worry for the Congress party, which is leading the opposition on a series of issues, is that developments in Bihar have dented opposition unity. “It is like one by one, all that we were showcasing is falling apart. It began with losing power in Bihar, the first state post 2014 where the united opposition came together to oppose the BJP and now the numbers in Rajya Sabha. After one or two more sets of elections to the Upper House, the government may gain majority there too,” a senior Congress leader from Bihar said requesting anonymity.

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