New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) The contest for the post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman is expected to be between a Congress nominee backed by other opposition parties and the candidate of the ruling BJP-led NDA as NCP on Tuesday decided against putting up a candidate for the August 9 election.
Sources said that Nationalist Congress Party decided not to field Vandana Chavan, whose name was being “actively considered” by opposition parties, after sensing that she would not get extra support from Biju Janata Dal and Shiv Sena.
The sources said that the NCP conveyed its decision at the meeting of opposition parties convened in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The decision left little choice for the Congress but to put up its candidate in “the fight for principle.”
A senior Congress leader said after the meeting that the party will field a candidate but did not reveal any name. He said it will be decided by late evening today.
He said the party was willing to contest the election from the beginning but had also offered to back any other Opposition candidate.
Congress sources said the government had not reached out to it for a consensus but only conveyed that JD-U member Harivansh will be its candidate.
The decision came amid reports that Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar had called up Odisha Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik to seek support for the party nominee.
Kumar had also called up TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao seeking his party’s support for the party candidate.
Congress will give the motion in favour of its nominee on Wednesday. All the motions for the election of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman will be moved on Thursday and taken for vote in succession. If a motion gets carried, others will not be taken up in the House.
Though the Opposition seemed to have an edge in the election initially, the NDA now appears to be carrying the momentum with likely support of AIADMK, TRS as also the BJD.
There is also speculation that BJD may not take part in voting.
The opposition parties had a meeting earlier in the day and a leader conveyed that Vandana Chavan’s name was being “actively considered.”
The sources said NCP took a decision not to put up a candidate after getting feedback from Shiv Sena and Biju Janata Dal.
Apart from Azad and Pawar, the meeting was attended by Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Ahmed Patel, Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Ram Gopal Yadav, NCP’s Praful Patel and Communist Party of India’s (CPI) D. Raja.
The parties which would support an opposition nominee include the Congress (50), TMC (14), SP (13), TDP (6), CPI-M (5), CPI (2), NCP (4), AAP (3), BSP (4), RJD (5), PDP (2), JD-S (1), Nominated (1), Kerala Congress-Mani (1) and IUML (1).
Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu had on Monday announced that the new Deputy Chairman to the upper House will be elected on August 9.
The post fell vacant after P.J. Kurien retired in July.
The election will be held a day before the monsoon session of Parliament concludes.