JDU’s Harivansh Narayan Singh (R) and RJD’s Manoj Jha.
The contest will be watched keenly because both the candidates are from Bihar which is likely to go to polls within the next couple of months
- Last Updated: September 11, 2020, 3:39 PM IST
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Rajya Sabha is likely to elect its deputy chairperson on the first day of the monsoon session which begins on Monday. NDA’s candidate, JD(U)’s Harivansh Narayan Singh who is looking for his second straight term, is pitted against the candidate proposed by the opposition — RJD’s Manoj Jha. There are several reasons why the developments in the upper house of the Parliament on Monday will be interesting, despite a clear edge that Harivansh Singh has given as the numbers are stacked in his favour.
Despite that, the contest will be watched keenly because both the candidates are from Bihar which is likely to go to polls within the next couple of months. Here’s a look at their profiles:
Harivansh Narayan Singh was a journalist by profession. He worked as an editor of Prabhat Khabar and served as the media advisor to the eighth Prime Minister of India, Chandra Shekhar Singh. He was born in village Sitab Diara, best known as the birthplace of socialist leader Jai Prakash Narayan, in June 1956. He graduated from the Banaras Hindu University. Singh is considered close to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 2014.
The senior JD(U) leader is a Rajput, and given BJP’s hopes of gaining ground based on its campaign around another Rajput from Bihar, Sushant Singh, the candidature of Harivansh Singh will be seen as a clear signal by BJP+JD(U) to the Rajput community back in the poll bound state. This tokenism will be important given that of all the upper castes in the state, the Rajputs have so far not shown much keenness towards the NDA, and are still believed to be warm toward the RJD. Singh’s nomination also works for the BJP in keeping its old Bihari ally, the JD(U), in good humour.
From the point of view of the RJD, on the other hand, Manoj Jha, a suave Brahmin face, is a similar bet to reach out to the Brahmins in Bihar. Before Jha, the name of DMK MP Tiruchi Siva was doing the rounds as Opposition’s candidate against Singh. However, the DMK is said to have backed out at the last moment, given RJD an opportunity to float the name of its Rajya Sabha member as the candidate.
Jha has been serving as a professor in Delhi University’s social work department since 2002. He is considered to be a good speaker and is said to have got the backing of NCP, Trinamool, BSP, DMK, apart from Congress and SP. However, at its peak, the opposition is not likely to come anywhere close to the halfway mark of 122 in the 244-member House.
The NDA, on the other hand, is expecting to cross 140 mark in its support for Harivansh Narayan Singh. On its own the NDA’s strength is at 113, which is much closer to the halfway mark.
While Nitish Kumar called the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, whose BJD has nine Rajya Sabha members, senior BJP leaders are believed to have dialed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, whose parties have six RS members each, to seek their support.
Harivansh was elected to the post of Deputy Chairman last year when he took over from Congress’s PJ Kurien. The former defeated BK Hariprasad, winning 125 votes.