Congress is ready to back a Trinamool Congress leader for the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha
Sukhendu Shekhar Roy of the Trinamool Congress is likely to be the opposition candidate for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson, which is set for a contest, if the government decides to field a candidate.
Ahead of the 2019 national polls, the election is being seen as one more test of the opposition’s ability to unite and take on the BJP.
The Congress, say sources, has decided to back Mamata Banerjee’s candidate, agreeing to take the back seat despite its numbers in the Rajya Sabha.
The Congress’s PJ Kurien has been Deputy Chairperson for 6 years.
With 51 seats in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress would have been the natural claimant for the post. The party, however, realizes that to ensure a non-BJP victory, it will have to support a Trinamool candidate to get the crucial votes of the Biju Janata Dal and Telegana Rastra Samiti, who are backing Mamata Banerjee’s party.
Both the Biju Janata Dal of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Telangana Rashtra Samiti seem inclined towards a Trinamool candidate as the Deputy Chairperson.
The last time an election took place for the post was in 1992.
The contest then was between Congress candidate Najma Heptullah, who is now with the BJP, and Renuka Chowdhary, who was the opposition candidate.
Najma Heptulla won with 128 votes against Renuka Chowdhary’s 95.
A contest seems likely to place this time too with the BJP not ready to concede to a united opposition candidate even though the numbers are stacked up against the ruling alliance.
The nomination and election process will take place during the monsoon session of parliament.