The Congress has decided to back Sukhendu Shekhar Roy of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson, which will be elected during the monsoon session of Parliament starting from July 18.
The Congress’ move to back Mamata Banerjee’s candidate despite having numbers to claim the post is seen as a step ahead towards stitching an anti-BJP front ahead of 2019 general elections.
Congress has 51 seats in the upper house and its leader PJ Kurien was the Rajya deputy chairperson for the last six years.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) are also backing Mamta’s candidate and in such a situation Congress would have to back him as well to ensure the victory of a non-BJP candidate.
The election for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson is happening after 26 years. Last time when the election for deputy chairperson took place, Congress candidate Najma Heptullah, now a BJP leader, was up against Opposition's Renuka Chowdhary, who is now with the Congress.
At that time, Congress' Heptullah with 128 votes defeated Chowdhary who could manage to get only 95 votes.