The Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat so hotly contested this week were three of 10 seats in the Upper House (including six from West Bengal) that were up for election.
How will this and future Rajya Sabha elections affect the state of play on the national stage? How will they impact the numbers in parliament of the two major coalitions -- the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Congress(I)? Flick up or scroll down to find out.
Despite all the shenanigans, the polls in Gujarat went largely as expected, with BJP winning two seats and Congress(I) getting the remaining one. The table below shows us what the numbers will be in the Rajya Sabha when the new MPs from Gujarat and West Bengal take up their seats on August 19.
|NDA members||No. of MPs||Unallied parties||No. of MPs|
|Bharatiya Janata Party||56||Samajwadi Party||18|
|Janata Dal (United)||10||AIADMK||13|
|Telugu Desam Party||6||All India Trinamool Congress||13|
|Shiromani Akali Dal||3||Biju Janta Dal||8|
|Shiv Sena||3||Communist Party of India (M)||7|
|J&K People's Democratic Party||2||Independent||6|
|Sikkim Democratic Front||1||Bahujan Samaj Party||5|
|Naga People's Front||1||Nationalist Congress Party||5|
|Bodoland People's Front||1||Rashtriya Janata Dal||3|
|Telangana Rashtra Samithi||3|
|UPA members||No. of MPs||Communist Party of India||1|
|Congress (I)||57||Indian National Lok Dal||1|
|DMK||4||Janata Dal (Secular)||1|
|Indian Union Muslim League||1||Jharkhand Mukti Morcha||1|
|Kerala Congress (M)||1||Republican Party of India (A)||1|
|YSR Congress Party||1|
And if we tot up the numbers below for the two coalitions in the Rajya Sabha after August 19, (and also take into account the upcoming resignations of BJP MPs Manohar Parrikar and Venkaiah Naidu given they are now in the posts of Chief Minister of Goa and Vice-president respectively), we see the NDA is still some way away from any kind of majority in the Upper House.
A simple majority of 123 seats is important because it makes it easier to pass bills, while a two-thirds majority of 162 is needed to amend the constitution or pass laws on matters otherwise on the state list. So if the NDA wants to do anything like this, it will have to rely on others.
To start changing its numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the NDA will have to win states which are in the hands of the opposition. States such as Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, which together provide a total of 15 MPs to the Rajya Sabha, are currently with the UPA and will be going to the polls in 2018, along with eight other states mentioned below.
The table below tells us how many R.S. seats from a state are up for election each year.
|Jammu & Kashmir||4|
The previous table tells us that even if the NDA starts winning states that are with the UPA, the benefits won't be seen immediately. The elections for Rajya Sabha seats of a particular state are held in different years, so any impact will be gradual.
The chart above is an attempt to calculate what the Rajya Sabha numbers of the UPA and NDA will be over the coming years, given what we know about the party composition of different state assemblies. If an R.S. seat is up for election from a state after its assembly term is over, nothing can be said about where it ends up, so it won't be counted.
We see here that the NDA will have at least 87 seats in the Rajya Sabha after May 4, 2018.
The chart below also tries to show what could happen to the NDA and UPA over the coming years. But what it does differently is that it assumes the composition of state assemblies will not change after elections. So it's an experiment to see how things will turn out in the Rajya Sabha if parties retain their seat shares in the different assemblies.
For example, the NDA in this chart gets 3 seats from Gujarat which it didn't in the previous chart. This is because Gujarat faces state elections this year, so the make-up of the assembly could change. This chart ignores that and assumes things stay the same. Here, the NDA could hit 106 seats by November 26, 2020--still 17 short of a simple majority.
Crudely put, the number of seats a party or coalition gets in a Rajya Sabha election is proportionate to the number of seats it has in a state assembly. But that's just the tip of the iceberg, as you learn how the election is an example of 'single transferable vote' (STV), how the Rajya Sabha election uses a variant of STV called the 'Hare-Clark system' and how the number of votes a candidate needs to get elected is called the 'Droop quota', the formula for which is pictured above. A detailed explanation is available in this Election Commission handbook.