The year 2022 appears to have acquired mythical status among some Modi supporters. It’s when “New India” arrives in the form of a majority in the Rajya Sabha. Unfortunately that’s as likely to happen as the bullet train.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) currently has 90 seats in the Rajya Sabha, some thirty short of a majority. If we assume that all current state governments are re-elected between 2018 and 2019 — a very good scenario for the BJP — the Rajya Sabha looks as follows in 2020 (assuming no state legislators cross-vote):
The NDA is still around 20 seats short of the halfway mark, leaving it dependent on non-aligned regional parties to muster the majority it needs to pass bills in the upper house. If we boldly extend the assumption that state governments are re-elected in 2020 and 2021, the Rajya Sabha looks like this in 2022:
The NDA could still corral votes from smaller parties and pass bills via simple majority, but remains well short of the two-thirds mark needed to pass a constitutional amendment. This should reassure those who worry about the BJP’s goal of transforming India into a “Hindu Rashtra”, even if the party wins the 2019 election.
For argument’s sake, assume that Indian politics returns to a more “normal” pattern that is still favourable to the BJP. This means that the BJP loses in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (2018), wins more narrowly in Maharashtra and Haryana (2019), the DMK wins Tamil Nadu (2021), INC gains in Assam (2021) and the BJP is narrowly re-elected in Uttar Pradesh (2022). Here’s what the 2022 Rajya Sabha looks like:
In this scenario the NDA is 20 seats short of the halfway mark until 2024. That means that even if Modi is re-elected in 2019, control of both houses will remain a distant dream for his entire term, as will Hindu Rashtra. Hopefully the bullet train will be running by then.