Former Prime Minister and senior Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh's 30-year-long tenure as a Rajya Sabha MP ended on Friday, ahead of the upcoming Budget session in the parliament. This will be the first time the renowned economist will miss a Budget session which can be seen as a big blow for the Congress as the veteran was a part of many economic upliftment policies that were legislated since the 1990s.
Dr. Manmohan Singh was elected for the first time in 1991 from Assam. 1991 is considered as a landmark year for the Indian economy in which Dr Singh pioneered the implementation of the liberalization, privatization, and globalization (LPG policy). Owing to Congress's poor show of numbers in the Assam state assembly, Manmohan Singh's absence in the upper house cannot even be helped by the Grand Old Party. Congress has a mere 25 MLAs in the state assembly against the 43 votes required to elect him back to the House. Even the support of 13 legislators from the All India United Democratic Front will leave the Congress short-handed as they will fall short of the support of five more MLAs.
Furthermore, the Congress party cannot afford to send Manmohan Singh from other states where the seats are vacant either as they do not have the required numbers to stake a claim for a berth in the Upper House.
With the election of BJP's Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and AGP's Birender Prasad Baishya's unopposed election from Assam, a total of nine seats are lying vacant in Odisha(4), Tamil Nadu(1), Bihar(2), and Gujarat(2). Congress can only hope to get one seat in Gujarat, which they are expected to pursue hard at.
Sending Singh from other states such as Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Punjab or Rajasthan is futile as there are no immediate vacancies in these states. The only way to get Singh into the house is to make him resign and get him re-elected from another seat. However, party sources maintain that the decision about the two-time Prime Minister has not been considered by the party yet.
Singh, in his tenure as Rajya Sabha MP for 28 years, led the Upper House for ten years from 2004 to 2014 during the UPA 1 and UPA 2 and took up the role of the Leader of Opposition for six years. He was last elected to the House in 2013, thus bringing his tenure to an end this year with bleak chances of being re-elected.
The first Budget session of the Parliament, after the re-election of NDA led by the BJP for the second time, is scheduled to commence from June 17.
(With agency inputs)