Ahead of Rajya Sabha elections in four states i.e., Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Haryana, various parties have accommodated legislators from at least three states in resorts, away from potential poaching by rival parties.
Seats contested in the current elections —
- Of the 57 vacancies in Rajya Sabha, 41 candidates in 11 states have so far been elected unopposed.
- The elections will be held for six seats in Maharashtra, four each in Rajasthan and Karnataka and two in Haryana, on June 10, 2022.
Political implication of Rajya Sabha polls —
- Rajya Sabha, or the Council of States, has 245 seats. Leave aside reaching the halfway mark of 123, no ruling party has ever touched the 100 mark in the last three-and-a-half decades. The BJP-led NDA fleetingly touched 100 in April but its strength is down to 95 now after the retirement of five of the nominated members who had taken BJP membership.
- The elections are happening ahead of the Presidential polls to be held in July, 2022.
- The President of India is indirectly elected by means of an electoral college consisting of the elected members of the Parliament of India and the Legislative assemblies of the States of India and the Union territories (having an elected assembly). So, the Rajya Sabha polls will impact the Presidential polls.
- Numbers in the Rajya Sabha are also crucial for the government to make laws. In that context, the Rajya Sabha elections hold another key.
- Ruling government has been talking about laws such as the Uniform Civil Code. A good show in the Rajya Sabha elections may prompt the Centre to move a bill in Parliament.
- For instance, In 2019, the BJP did well in the Rajya Sabha polls and went for the Citizenship Amendment Act and the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.
About Rajya Sabha —
- Origin — India follows the British parliamentary system, so the Rajya Sabha, or the Upper House of Parliament, is equivalent to the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.
- Description — It is a permanent body that is never dissolved and can have a maximum of 250 members, as per the Constitution.
- Present strength — As of 2021, it has a sanctioned strength of 245, of which 233 are elected from states and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry.
- Nomination — Under Article 80(3), the remaining 12 are nominated by the president, chosen for their contributions to the fields of art, literature, science and social services. A nominated member may join a party within six months of taking a seat.
- Chair — The Indian vice-president is chairperson of the Upper House, while it also has a deputy chair. Right now, vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu is the Rajya Sabha chairman.
- Voting — Article 80(4) provides that members shall be elected by the elected members of state Assemblies through a system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
- Election mode — They are indirectly elected by party MLAs unlike the Lok Sabha members, who are elected by the public.
- Retirement — One-third members retire every second year under Article 83(1) of the Constitution and are replaced by newly chosen members.
- Term — Each member serves for a term of six years.
- Vacancy — Vacancies arising due to resignation, death or disqualification are filled up through bypolls, and those elected serve out the remainder of their predecessors’ term.
- Proportion — The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution provides for allocation of Rajya Sabha seats to the states and Union Territories, on the basis of the population of each state. For instance, there are 31 Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and 1 in Goa. As and when a new state is created or a merger takes place, the Rajya Sabha make-up also changes accordingly.
Procedure for election —
- Seeing as MLAs choose members, it is a logical conclusion that political parties with a higher strength of MLAs will send more MPs to the Rajya Sabha. But that’s not always the case.
- Voting takes place through the proportional representation system using single transferable voting, where each MLA’s vote is counted only once. But they don’t vote for every single seat.
- Listing — Under this process, members have to list 10 candidates in the order of preference.
- Surplus votes — As and when candidates are elected, “surplus” votes are transferred to the next candidates. This allows MLAs to vote for candidates from other parties.
- Agent — The ballot is open but MLAs have to show their ballots to an authorised agent from their party to prevent practices such as cross-voting. A vote cannot be counted if the ballot is not shown to the agent.
- Independent members — Independent MLAs cannot show their ballot to anyone.
Method of counting votes —
- The number of votes a candidate requires depends on the number of vacancies and the strength of the House.
- One vacant seat — If there is only one vacancy, the required quota under the Election Commission’s Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, is calculated by taking the number of votes polled, divided it by 2, and adding 1. For example, if 100 votes are polled in an Assembly, the Rajya Sabha candidate would need: 100/2 + 1 = 51 votes
- More than one vacancy — If there is more than one vacancy, the equation is based on an assigned value of 100 for every first-preference vote.
- The values of the votes credited to all candidates are totalled. The total is divided by 1 more than the number of vacancies, and 1 is added to this quotient.
- For example, if 100 members of an Assembly vote for 3 Rajya Sabha vacancies, the required quota by any candidate would be (100 × 100)/(3 + 1) + 1 = 2501
- If for any seat, candidates fail to get the specified number, the second-preference votes will be taken into account, but with a lower value.