Four TDP lawmakers switch to BJP; How the numbers stack up in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi, June 21: Four Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MPs joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday, inching the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) closer to a majority in the Upper House.
The four MPs, YS Chowdary, CM Ramesh, Garikapati Mohan Rao and TG Venkatesh, submitted a letter to Rajya Sabha chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu seeking that they should be recognised as a separate group.
The move is being seen by experts as a masterstroke that will drastically alter equations in the Upper House.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) currently holds 106 seats (including the four TDP MPs)- 18 short of a majority in the 245-member House. Meanwhile, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has 66 seats. And parties not aligned with either of the NDA or UPA have 66 seats. There are currently nine vacant seats in the Rajya Sabha.
Assembly polls are due in some states like Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand later this year and the BJP's show in the Rajya Sabha polls, slated for 2020, will depend on its numbers garnered in these state elections.
If the number of seats its allies like the JD(U) in Bihar, the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra is added, the ruling alliance may cross the majority mark of 124 seats in 2021.
Many non-NDA, non-UPA parties like the BJD, the TRS and the YSRCP have supported the ruling dispensation on several crucial bills.
The majority in the Upper House will be a big boost for the Narendra Modi-led government as its contentious bills to abolish "triple talaq" and amend the Citizenship Act got stuck in the Rajya Sabha.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship.
The party is likely to table a fresh bill on criminalising triple talaq or instant Muslim divorce on Friday in the Lok Sabha. Back in February, the government had failed in its pursuit to get the bill cleared after it got stalled in the Rajya Sabha, which had the opposition parties in the majority.