Andhra Pradesh's ruling YSR Congress is likely to back the controversial bill to replace the Delhi Services Ordinance, thereby ensuring its smooth passage in Rajya Sabha. Besides YSR Congress, Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) may also back the bill in the Upper House, thereby giving NDA the necessary numbers.
While it is unclear when the bill will be tabled in both houses, several parties, including the Congress and AAP, have issued whips to their members to remain present in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. JD(U) too issued a whip to its MPs on Thursday to vote against the bill and support the party stance. Interestingly, the JD(U) issued a whip to Deputy Chairman of House Harivansh Narayan Singh too.
The whip to Harivansh has triggered a controversy as Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha is a constitutional post. JD(U) party chief whip Aneel Prasad Hegde said all MPs have been issued a whip. "We have issued a whip to all our MPs. I will need to check if this was sent earlier as well to the Deputy Chairman. This time I am the Chief Whip of the party and the whip has been issued to all five Rajya Sabha MPs of the party."
Former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien told ANI that this should not have been done as the role of Deputy Chairman is that of an umpire. "I was never given a whip by my party to vote in any direction. Since I was in a constitutional post, I was given full freedom to do my duty. Parties do not send a whip to the Deputy Chairman as he is an umpire," Kurien said.
Meanwhile, the NDA hopes to win the support of nominated members and Independents in the Rajya Sabha to ensure the bill's passage. The NDA has enough numbers in the Lok Sabha, while NDA and INDIA are evenly poised in the Rajya Sabha.
The NDA has 101 members in the Rajya Sabha, while the 26-party INDIA enjoys the support of 100 lawmakers. The non-aligned parties have 28 members, five members are in the nominated category and three independents. Of them, seven belong to BRS and are likely to vote for INDIA. The BJD and YSR Congress have nine members each and the ruling alliance will be hoping for their support for the crucial bill.
The BSP, JD(S) and TDP have one member each in the Upper House and which way they will vote will be eagerly watched. However, the tradition of ruling coalition managing the support of non-aligned parties may help NDA clear the bill in the Upper House.
The bill is expected to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday, but there was speculation that it could be brought to the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.