Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha election results are just out. But does it cause much of a stir among the common people? Not really. Why will it? The common people do not directly elect the members of the Upper House and so the Rajya Sabha does not represent them.

Rajya Sabha: Composition and members

If we look at the composition and functions of the Rajya Sabha it will become clearer to us. It consists of a maximum of 250 members, 233 among them are elected through  Indirect election by the members of the Vidhan Sabha of the states. And the remaining 12 are nominated by the President from distinguished persons in various fields. They are generally celebrities and if their attendance record is seen for the sessions of the house, it is really disappointing as they remain busy with their schedules and often don’t find an interest in the proceedings of the house. Thus the facilities and allowances provided to them are an added drain on the nation’s resources.

What is the prominence and powers of Rajya Sabha?

Moreover, the Rajya Sabha’s power and voice is nothing in comparison to the Lok Sabha. Though an ordinary bill can originate in both the houses, a money bill can originate only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha has absolutely no say in this matter. If it does not pass the bill within 14 days it is deemed to have been passed by the Parliament. There are other matters in which the Rajya Sabha is almost powerless compared to the Lok Sabha. For instance if there is a deadlock between the two houses regarding a particular issue, the President calls a joint session of both the houses to resolve the tie.But even in this case the Rajya  Sabha has a lower hand  becauae its numerical strength is half of that of thw Lok Sabha.

However, despite all its weaknesses, the upper house of the parliament does have some exclusive and special powers which make it important. What is interesting is that the Rajya Sabha is a permanent body and is never dissolved as the whole. 1/3 of its members retire every two years and each member has a term of 6 years. Thus, if and when the country is in a state of emergency, the Lok Sabha stands dissolved and it is the Rajya Sabha which takes all important decisions.Moreover, the Rajya Sabha also has the power to disband all existing  All India services or start a new one. It can also decide if a subject on the ‘State List’ is of national importance, so that the Parliament can make laws on it. Thus, despite its weakness, certain exclusive powers make it indispensable.

Rajya Sabha: Recent poll results and their impact on Indian Politics

Now the recent elections for several seats of the Rajya Sabha have definitely changed the climate of Parliamentary politics to a great extent. After the results, the BJP’s total number of seats in the house have increased from 54 to 69 while the Congress now has just 50 seats as compared to its previous 54. This is satisfying for the ruling party as it has emerged as the single largest party in the Upper House and it will probably be able to pass bills more smoothly than before. However, the NDA with a total of 85 seats still doesn’t have the majority in the house.

The regional parties like the TMC and BJD among others have held on to their previous tally. Thus there is still a quite strong opposition in the Rajya Sabha compared to the Lok Sabha where the opposition is a microscopic minority. However, the ruling party seems to be in a much better position now and it can expect to have an unhindered passage to most bills if it manages to get the support of few regional parties. This trend is however not healthy as a strong opposition acts as a check to the government’s arbitrary power.

Though the Upper house of the parliament is distant from the common people and has endless limitations,  it has its importance not only in terms of its few exclusive powers but it might also act as a balance to the absolute power of a government due to its nature and composition.

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