Will a Muslim be Among AAP’s First Ever Representation in Rajya Sabha?

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TIME TO DELIVER…Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal being garlanded by a party worker after he was elected unanimously by 27 legislators of the Aam Aadmi Party as their leader in the Delhi Assembly, in New Delhi. PTI

Though the Aam Aadmi Party led by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has not taken a final decision about its candidates for the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, speculations about the probables have been doing the rounds for some time

Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Two months from now, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will be adding a new chapter to its history as the five-year-old party will have its first-ever representation in Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Indian Parliament – a historic moment since it swept the Delhi Assembly polls under Arvind Kejriwal’s leadership two years back. Speculation is rife that to maintain the Congress tradition of the last two terms, AAP could also choose a Muslim face.

In February 2015, AAP had won 67 out of total 70 seats of the Delhi Assembly, surprising all. Since then, it is first time that all three seats of Rajya Sabha from Delhi are going to be vacant. Its unprecedented strong position in the Delhi Assembly makes it eligible to capture all three seats when the sitting MPs will retire on 27th January 2018.

Delhi is neither a State, nor a Union Territory. It used to be a full-fledged Union Territory till 1991, when the 69th amendment of the Constitution gave it a special status. The amendment declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as National Capital Territory of Delhi. The Act gave Delhi its own legislative assembly, though with limited powers. The Centre administers a Union territory while a state is governed by its elected government. Delhi is a bit of both.

Though the party has not taken a final decision about its candidates for Rajya Sabha, speculations about the probables have been making rounds. Media reports said the former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan, who has gone back to the US to continue his university teaching assignment, would be one of its candidates. However, he is believed to have declined the offer. Two strong contenders from inside the party are said to be senior leaders, Sanjay Singh and journalist-turned-politician Ashutosh. There is a talk of one of the AAP founders and Hindi poet, Kumar Vishwas, being keen on it.

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal with Muslim clerics in Varanasi, UP during his electoral campaign for Parliament.

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The Article 80 of the Constitution lays down the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha as 250, out of which 12 members are nominated by the President and 238 are representatives of the States and of the two Union Territories. The BJP, which forms part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), now has 58 seats in the Rajya Sabha, one more than Congress.

With 45 Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in BJP states over the next 16 months, the NDA is likely to get significantly close to a majority in the upper house of Parliament. Currently, all three seats of Rajya Sabha from Delhi are held by Congress which was in power for 15 years till it was literally wiped out from the Delhi Assembly map in February 2015.

Sitting Rajya Sabha MPs from Delhi are Janardan Dwivedi, Karan Singh and Parvez Hashmi. Hashmi was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2009 for three years and then reelected in 2012.

Since it came to prominence in the Delhi politics, the Muslim voters have largely preferred AAP over the Congress or BJP.  It got huge support of Muslims in the 2015 Assembly polls as it won seats in the Muslim-dominated areas which were the fiefdom of the Congress. The party also got big support from the community in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections though it could not win even one out of seven seats.

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