Govt to push for consensus candidate for RS deputy chairman post

PTI

File Photo of Rajya Sabha

File Photo of Rajya Sabha

With numbers not on its side, the government is unlikely to go for election to the post of Rajya Sabha’s deputy chairman in Parliament’s Monsoon Session beginning today and will push for a consensus candidate.

The post has been lying vacant since last month after the retirement of P J Kurien, who was elected to the upper house of Parliament on the Congress ticket from Kerala, and later became its deputy chairman in the UPA government.

A top government source said that parliamentary rules do not set any deadline for filling up the post and there were precedence in the past when it lay vacant for more than a session.

The BJP-led NDA does not enjoy a majority in the house and would need support of several regional parties to push for election of its candidate in case of a contest.

“Our efforts would be to build consensus for the deputy chairman of the upper house,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel told PTI.

Earlier, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had also suggested both the government and the opposition to elect the deputy chairman unanimously.

Naidu made these remarks at the farewell function of Kurien.

Meanwhile, various opposition parties, excluding the Congress, have been trying to project a candidate for the post, who would also be supported by the entire opposition, sources in the opposition said.

Various names, including that of TMC’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, were doing rounds for the opposition’s candidate for the post. Naresh Gujral, the Rajya Sabha MP of NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), was also tipped to be the candidate from the government side.

Gujral said that he was not in the race for the post and there should be a consensus for the candidate.  Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government was yet to approach the opposition in the matter.

He said that as per the Constitution, the post needs to “filled at the earliest”.  Nobody knows “when is earliest for this government”, the Congress leader said.