NEW DELHI: The opposition’s efforts to put up a united front to take on BJP suffered a blow as its candidate was roundly defeated in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s election where the stakes were raised despite the saffron party being better placed to cobble the numbers from independent parties.
In the end, the margin of victory for the NDA candidate was more than comfortable as was anticipated after none of the NDA constituents such as Akali Dal or Shiv Sena bolted as speculated and the most soughtafter player — Biju Janata Dal (BJD) — decided to side with the ruling camp. BJD, like AIADMK and TRS, has consistently sided with the Modi government and its stance in a crunch game was likely to be same.
The sole exception was the no-confidence motion this monsoon session when BJD and TRS abstained from voting in a contest where BJP’s victory was never in doubt. Yet, the RS poll outcome will go down as a loss of face for the opposition just when it has been building a perception of gaining in strength.
It was suggested that Sharad Pawar of NCP could get BJD around as also Shiv Sena on the Maratha plank. Ironically, the general impression is that BJD leader Naveen Patnaik may not even have taken the telephone call from opposition leaders who tried him.
In fact, the plan went so awry that while Congress did not want to field its candidate to attract parties uncomfortable with it, the losing scenario saw all the allies decide against pitching their candidates. Left with no option, Congress had to put up its own candidate.