Monsoon session of Indian parliament to begin

India’s upper house of parliament (Rajya Sabha) will convene today for an 18-day Monsoon parliamentary session, during which it will

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Photo: Reuters

India’s upper house of parliament (Rajya Sabha) will convene today for an 18-day Monsoon parliamentary session, during which it will elect its deputy chair.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling NDA coalition will likely re-nominate the last incumbent deputy chair, Harivansh Narayan Singh, whose term ended on April 9. The NDA holds 117 seats in the 245-seat House, giving them a plurality. Harivansh is thus favoured, but not assured, to win, and the government will be counting on opposition disunity to facilitate the incumbent’s re-election.

The vote is imperative to the execution of Modi’s legislative agenda in the Rajya Sabha. Modi holds a comfortable majority in the lower house, but his weaker hold over the upper house slowed his legislative agenda in his first term and will likely be repeated if the opposition re-claims the deputy chair’s office during his second term.

Ultimately, should the NDA retain the deputy chairmanship this session, the Rajya Sabha—where the main opposition Indian National Congress has held sway throughout the Modi era—will likely pivot towards the NDA’s ‘Make in India’ economic reforms and nationalist foreign policy vis-à-vis China, thus weakening the Congress’ future electoral chances further.

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