The election for the post of Deputy Chairman in Rajya Sabha is scheduled to be held today around noon. NDA candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh and opposition’s candidate BK Hariprasad will face each other in the tight contest. While NDA had declared the first time JD(U) MP Harivansh Narayan Singh as its candidate on the day the election was announced, there was uncertainty for the opposition’s candidate. There were media reports that NCP MP Vandana Chavan will be the candidate.
However, Congress put all speculations to end when it declared its own three times MP BK Hariprasad as the candidate. The post of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman has been lying vacant since July 1 after former Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien had retired.
Here is a brief profile of both the candidates.
Harivansh Narayan Singh
Rajya Sabha MP Harivansh Narayan Singh represents Bihar and is a first time JD(U) MP. an alumnus of the Banaras Hindu University, he assumed office in April 2014. He had been the former editor-in-chief of Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar and was the Public Relations Officer of former Prime Minister Chandrasekhar. Originally hailing from Uttar Pradesh’s Balia, Harivansh Singh has had a clean image and is known as a strict administrator. Having been associated with social reformer and activist Jayaprakash Narayan during his political movement, he also hails from the same native village as JP. Singh is known to have a good rapport with members of all parties.
Singh reportedly has the support of 126 MPs in the upper house. While the NDA does not hold a majority in the Rajya Sabha, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar had reached out to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik for BJD’s support and that has been fruitful. Patnaik has today officially announced that they will be supporting the NDA candidate. With BJD’s 9 MPs, AIADMK’s 13 and TRS’ 6 MPs voting in his favour, it is expected that Harivansh Narayan Singh will have a comfortable majority.
Born in Bengaluru, Karnataka, Hariprasad is a Congress veteran and has been an MP 3 times. He has been the AICC general secretary for 18 years. Known as one of the favourites of Sonia Gandhi, Hariprasad has served as the party in-charge for the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Gujrat and Chhattisgarh. In his early life, he had been the general secretary of NSUI, Congress’ student wing.
Hariprasad has been holding power positions within the party for a long time. He had also been pivotal in the Congress Working Committee for a decade. He is known as one of the loyalists and close aides of the Gandhis. He had contested the 1999 Lok Sabha elections from Bengaluru South constituency but had lost to BJP’s Ananth Kumar.
With 61 MPs from UPA, 13 MPs from TMC, and MPs from other parties like BSP(4), TDP(6), CPIM(5) and SP(13) supporting him, including MPs from DMK, CPI and JD(S), Hariprasad is expected to get 109 votes in total.
While Congress has asserted its dominance over the ‘united opposition’ by posing its own candidate, the BJP’s choice to field a candidate from JD(U) for Vice Chairman is being regarded as a smart move. Political experts agree that it not only projected healthy relationships with JD(U), a key coalition partner but also showed that the BJP is willing to indulge its smaller coalition partners.