NDA's Harivansh elected RS Deputy Chair (Third Lead)

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New Delhi : Aided by divisions in the ranks of the opposition, National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh sailed through easily in the election for Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman on Thursday defeating Opposition nominee B.K. Hariprasad.

Harivansh, a Janata Dal-United (JD-U) member and a veteran journalist, secured 125 votes as against 105 of Hariprasad in a House of 244 besides the Chairman. Only 230 members were present.

The comfortable win for the ruling coalition nominee came on the back of support from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Telangana Rashtra Samitai (TRS), both of which fight the BJP in Odisha and Telangana respectively but extended their hand of friendship in Delhi. As expected, 13 MPs of the AIADMK also supported the NDA candidate. BJD and TRS have 9 and 6 members respectively.

Roughly, the BJP and its allies account for 112 MPs while the Opposition that includes parties like BJD and TRS account for 113.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to Chief Ministers Naveen Patnaik (Odisha) and K. Chandrasekhara Rao (Telangana) seeking support for Harivansh.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), with three members, abstained with party leaders saying the Congress did not involve them in consultations while the YSR Congress party with two MPs also abstained.

Following his election, Harivansh was conducted to his seat, which is beside the Leader of Opposition, by Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Modi congratulated Harivansh on his victory and Harivansh as a "well read" person who "has written a lot".

"He has served the society for years," the Prime Minister added. "I also want to congratulate B.K. Hariprasad for being a part of the election."

He said there were two "Haris" in the race and hoped that with Harivansh victory, there will be "harikripa "(God's blessings) in the House.

Jaitley, who attended the Rajya Sabha for the first time in the ongoing monsoon session after a kidney transplant surgery he had a few months ago, also congratulated Harivansh.

Members, cutting across party lines felicitated the new deputy chair.

Azad expressed the hope that Harivansh will discharge his duties in a non-partisan manner and work for all sections of the society irrespective of caste, creed and religion.

He hoped his experience in journalism would benefit the House.

Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Derek O'Brien of the Trinamool Congress, Sanjay Raut of Shiv Sena and leaders of other parties also conveyed their congratulations.

On his part, Harivansh assured the members that he will conduct the proceedings of the House in a non-partisan manner.

"Now I do not belong to any party," he said, seeking cooperation of the members in the smooth conduct of the House.

He said that it was a matter of pride for him to reach the corridors of power and pledged to work for the country's development.

After Harivansh's speech, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu invited him to conduct the House proceedings.

"The House stands adjourned to meet again at 2 p.m.," Harivansh said in his first words from the Chair.