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Now, why most of RS MPs get elected unopposed?

Dr M Sridhar Acharyulu, Professor, School of Law, Mahindra University, Hyderabad.

26.2.2024

This time Elections for 56 seats of Rajya Sabha are scheduled to take place on February 27. These seats are spread across 15 states and the last day for filing nominations was February 15. However, the process of selecting candidates to Rajya Sabha seats largely varies from the process adopted for Lok Sabha elections. In Lower House, called Lok Sabha, the members are elected for a term of five years, which is scheduled shortly in some months. Every two years, elections will be organized to select 33 per cent of the seats.

Parliament is bicameral in nature. Upper House is called Rajya Sabha of Parliament, while the other is Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha is the second chamber of the parliament and represents the states and union territories of the nation.Maximum Strength is 250 in Rajya Sabha. Of them 238 represent States & Union Territories, while 12 are nominated by the President.

Composition of Upper House, Rajya Sabha
Maximum Strength 250238 represent States & Union Territories 12 are nominated by the president
Current Strength 239 (6 Vacancies) Total – 245225 members represent the states 8 members represent the union territories 12 members are nominated by the president
Note: Fourth Schedule of Indian Constitution deals with allocation of seats in Rajya Sabha

As on these days, the Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members which represent States and Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry. Out of the total 245 members, 12 are directly nominated by the President. They  are veterans in the field of art, literature, sports, science etc.  Totally based on population, the candidates will be allocated to Rajya Sabha. The total allowed capacity is 250 (238 elected, 12 appointed) according to article 80 of our Constitution, while after the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Act, 2019, the seats came down to 245.

Fourth Schedule of Constitution of Bharat deals with allocation of seats in Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha Members are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies using a method of proportional representation.Representation of States in Rajya Sabha is not equal. It depends on its population. State with a larger population will have a greater number of seats in Rajya Sabha than those with a lesser population.

Single Transferable Vote (STV).

Representation of States in Rajya Sabha: Members are elected by the elected members of state legislative assemblies. The principle adopted is the proportional Representation by means of Single Transferable Vote (STV). The population of the state is a factor that decides the representation of states in Rajya Sabha.

Representation of Union Territories in Rajya Sabha: Members of Rajya Sabha belonging to Union Territories are indirectly elected by members of an electoral college, that is constituted for this purpose. Principle is the same followed in States also.

Out of 8 union territories, Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir have representation in Rajya Sabha.

The nomination is done by the President. How is the selection done? The President of India selected those who have been from Art, Literature, Science, and Social Service. Interestingly, one former Chief Justice of India was selected by the President as MP in this category.

Members of the state legislative assemblies choose Rajya Sabha members through an indirect election system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote (SVT)

Complex Counting process

The process to count votes for a Rajya Sabha election follows a complex system. A candidate contesting polls for the Upper House requires to secure a specific number of votes called quota. The calculation of quota depends on the number of vacancies to be filled. If the polls are being conducted to fill one vacancy, the quota will be computed by dividing the total number of valid votes by the number of seats to be filled, plus 1, and adding 1 to the quotient.

Formula 1: Quota= [(Total number of valid votes)/(Number of seats+1)]+1

However, if there are more than one seat to be filled, the formula changes and the total number of valid votes is multiplied by 100, divided by total number of vacancies, plus 1, and adding 1 to the quotient.

Formula 2: Quota (for more than one seat)= [(Total number of valid votes x 100)/(Number of seats vacant)+1]+1

In case a candidate receives votes in surplus of the quota, the extra votes are then transferred to other candidates based on the preference listed out by the voters indicated on the ballot paper.

20 years back, two changes were made to Rajya Sabha (election in 2003). Firstly, to be elected as a Rajya Sabha member from a particular state, the requirement to be an elector from that state was removed, Secondly, system of the open ballot was introduced in place of secret ballot system.

Based on population, each state is allocated a certain number of candidates in the Upper House. For instance, Uttar Pradesh has 31 Rajya Sabha seats while Goa has one.

The 2024 Rajya Sabha elections will be held as part of a routine six-year cycle among certain of the State Legislatures in India on July and August 2024 to elect 65 of its 245 members, of which the states through their legislators elect 233, and the remaining 12 are appointed by the President.

Contesting candidates

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its list of Rajya Sabha candidates for 14 seats, which include former Congress minister RPN Singh and six others for Uttar Pradesh, and a mix of leaders from other states, aimed at balancing caste equations and boosting organisational morale and strength.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has approved the candidature of Sonia Gandhi from Rajasthan and Dr. Akhilesh Prasad Singh from Bihar. In addition, Abhishek Manu Singhvi has been fielded from Himachal Pradesh and Chandrakant Handore from Maharashtra. On 15th Feb. filing of nominates for elections ended

Out of 56 seats, 10 in UP, 6 each in Maharashtra, free each in Gujarat and Karnataka, threeeach from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Odisha, and one reach in Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Most of the candidates are likely to get elected unopposed.  February 20 was the last date of withdrawing candidature.

The NDA’s current strength in the Upper House of Parliament stands at 114, including 93 of the BJP. The Congress has 30 seats, the second highest. While 50 members will retire on April 2, and on April 3 six will retire.  Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other six will retire.

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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