Congress dumps Vandana Chavan, nominates BK Hariprasad as candidate for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman election

After much wait, Congress nominated BK Hariprasad as its Rajya Sabha deputy chairman candidate on Wednesday as talks of Vandana Chavan of NCP being the Opposition consensus candidate fell through, media reports said.

Sixty-four-year-old Hariprasad is a Congress leader who represents Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha. He is also a general secretary of the All India Congress Committee.

After a second round of meeting on Tuesday, the Opposition had concluded that Chavan, whose name was proposed by Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Mishra and seconded by TMC leader Derek O'Brien, would be able to get the support of all Opposition parties and even a few of NDA allies. Congress had even supported Chavan's candidacy. However, the party did a U-turn on Wednesday and announced Hariprasad as its candidate for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman. What led to the decision is not clear yet.

"Party must have taken this decision after a lot of thinking. We will talk to all the Opposition leaders and discuss what is to be done," Hariprasad told ANI.

 Congress dumps Vandana Chavan, nominates BK Hariprasad as candidate for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman election

File image of BK Hariprasad. ANI

The Congress decided to field its nominee as the joint Opposition candidate after the other parties in the opposition bloc chose not to nominate their members. Meanwhile, the BJP has reached out to the Opposition for a consensus on the name of NDA's nominee Harivansh Narayan Singh for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman while working to secure the support of neutral parties like the Biju Janata Dal in the event of an election.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters on Tuesday that the BJP leaders, including himself, have contacted the Congress and other Opposition parties saying they wanted a consensus to emerge on Harivansh' name. According to a report in NDTV, Singh has been a Rajya Sabha member of the Janata Dal (United) since 2014. Singh, 62, is the former editor-in-chief of Hindi daily Prabhat Khabar, which for years championed the cause of special category status for Bihar, a key demand of Nitish Kumar.

Wednesday is the last day for filing nomination for the post and BJP sources said they wanted cross-party support for the JD(U) leader, and therefore refrained from making any formal announcement about his candidature. Opposition parties have been holding deliberations to decide their candidate. With the NDA nominee likely to get the support of 13 AIADMK members and six of the TRS, the decision of the BJD, which has nine members, will be significant.

If the BJD backs Singh, the NDA candidate's prospects will brighten in case of an election but if it abstains from voting, then his fate will become more uncertain.

BJP leaders said they have reached out to the two partners and expressed confidence they would get their support. The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 244 and support of 123 members would be needed for a win in case of an election, if all members are present.

On Tuesday, the YSR Congress party decided to vote against the NDA candidate in the upcoming Rajya Sabha deputy chairman's election.

What has added to the suspense over Singh' fate was the ambivalence of BJP ally Shiv Sena, which has often been critical of the BJP. Its another ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), however, on Tuesday said it would support any candidate put up by the NDA for the election to the post of deputy chairman Rajya Sabha.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Aug 08, 2018 11:25:54 IST