NEW DELHI, Aug 9 - The ruling NDA today comfortably bagged the post of deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha when journalist-turned politician Harivansh of the JD(U) beat Congress’ B K Hariprasad in an election that was seen as a test for the opposition unity ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In a boost to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), its candidate Harivansh, the 62-year-old first-time MP from the Nitish Kumar-led party, got 125 votes as against 105 polled by Hariprasad, who was the opposition nominee.
The post of the deputy chairman is lying vacant since the retirement of P J Kurien of the Congress on July 1.
The entire House congratulated Harivansh.
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also led the felicitations. Jaitley, who is recuperating after a renal transplant, attended the House after a long gap.
Harivansh said it would be his endeavour to uphold the dignity of the Upper House and expressed the hope that differences would be ironed out through constructive debates, consensus and guidance.
He exuded confidence that all members will work together and imbibe the principles of Mahatma Gandhi and Jai Prakash Narayan to ensure a smooth run of the House. He hails from the same village in Ballia-Saran region in Uttar Pradesh-Bihar border where Jai Prakash Narayan, a socialist leader and anti-Emergency crusader, was born.
“Treading on rules and procedures framed by our Constitution makers, we can lead the country to greatness... There would be differences in debates, there would be different opinions... We can find out a way.
“I got this opportunity to be here... I am frightened, surrounded by so many experienced people but this is my strength too as you all will guide me and I assure you I will run the House in a fair and decent manner,” said Harivansh, who is known to keep a low profile and is considered close to Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar.
As many as 232 members out of an effective strength of 244 voted thereby reducing the majority mark to 117.
The BJP-led NDA was present in full strength in the House and also got the support of fence sitters BJD(9) and TRS(6). The AIADMK with 13 members also voted for the NDA.
Two members each of the Congress, TMC, DMK and one from Samajwadi Party (SP) were absent from the House at the time of voting. The PDP and the AAP, which have two and three members respectively, did not participate in the voting, sources in the Rajya Sabha secretariat said.
Two members of YSRCP abstained from the voting.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu initiated the process of the election by calling for division of votes in the House. – PTI