Rajya Sabha to see shake-up as 53 MPs retire today
13 May 2016
The Rajya Sabha will see as many as 53 farewell speeches on Friday, with that many members retiring before the next Parliament session in July. That also means major changes in the composition of the 245-member Upper House.
There are some big names on the goodbye list, though some may come back. The Congress, at present now the biggest party in the house with 65 seats, will also be the biggest loser given its recent poor run in assembly elections, and some of its most prominent faces may bow out or will struggle to return. Sixteen members from the party are retiring.
The BJP may gain some seats, but not enough to smoothly push important legislation in the Rajya Sabha, whose members are elected by state legislatures.
Five ministers in the current government are set to retire - Venkaiah Naidu, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitaraman, Y S Choudhry and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Naidu holds the key Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development portfolios and he has to be brought back to Parliament. He was elected from Karnataka last time and with liquor baron Vijay Mallya resigning, there is a vacancy.
If he wants to be elected from his home state Andhra Pradesh, the BJP will need to enlist the help of the state's ruling TDP, which is in a position to get three seats with a fourth going to Jagan Reddy's YSR Congress.
But then there is also commerce minister Nirmala Sitaraman who came in from Andhra Pradesh for a two-year term. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to bring her to the house from some other state if he wants her back in his council as the TDP is unlikely to give the BJP two of three seats.
The Congress won't get any seat from Andhra Pradesh or Telangana. So the return of its Jairam Ramesh depends on the benevolence of Telangana's ruling TRS party. Other big Congress leaders like Hanumanth Rao and J D Seelam may not come back.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal will seek to return from Maharashtra. After the Maharashtra elections, the BJP-Sena combine get to pick the most seats. The Congress' Vijay Darda is retiring and three prominent leaders - Sushil Kumar Shinde, Gurudas Kamat and Mukul Vasnik - are aspirants for that one seat.
Uttar Pradesh will see a virtual overhaul. The BSP has no members in the Lok Sabha and six of its MPs in the Rajay Sabha will retire, including the party's No 2 Satish Chandra Mishra.
The BSP will send back two and the Congress and BJP one each. Mulayam Yadav's Samajwadi Party will have the rest. The BJP is likely to get back Minister Mukhtar Naqvi from UP.
From Bihar, five JD(U) MPs are retiring; the party will retain two seats, while ally RJD will get two and the BJP one.
Four Rajasthan seats fall vacant in July. The BJP has a huge majority in the state, so may take all four. Pre-empting that, the Congress' Anand Sharma has already shifted to Himachal Pradesh.
The other member Ashk Ali Tak won't make it back. Ram Jethmalani had won on a BJP ticket and has no chance of returning as his relations with the BJP at their lowest.
Another stalwart set to retire is former defence minister AK Antony. The Kerala assembly election results next week will decide his fate.
The Congress will have problems in Punjab too; three of its MPs retire but it can get back only two.
Oscar Fernandes is retiring from Karnataka and there is buzz that former finance minister P Chidambaram may be brought in, but local Congress leaders saying "outsiders are not welcome". Chidambaram is from Tamil Nadu.