The Election Commission of India announced polls to 57 Rajya Sabha seats, including those of retiring Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.  The term of the 57 MPs from 15 States would come to an end in the period from June to August, this year.

About Rajya Sabha-

  • Indian Parliament consists of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the President of India. Rajya Sabha also known as the house of elders, is the upper house of the parliament modelled after the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.
  • In our federal bicameral structure, Rajya Sabha represents the states and union territories of the nation. It is empowered to protect the interests of the states and union territories.

Composition of the house: 

  • Article 80 of the Constitution lays down the provisions for members of the Rajya Sabha. 
  • It states that the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha can be 250 out of which 12 seats are nominated by the President from persons having special knowledge or practical experience in the fields of literature, science, art and social service. 
  • The current strength of Rajya Sabha is 245. 
  • The Fourth Schedule to the Constitution provides for the allocation of seats to the States and Union Territories in Rajya Sabha. 
  • The allocation of seats to a state depends on its population. Hence, the number of elected seat changes with the merger or bifurcation of states. 
  • Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of Rajya Sabha seats at 31.
  • The Vice President of India is the ex-officio chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Deputy Chairman, who is elected from amongst the house's members, takes care of the day-to-day matters of the house in the absence of the Chairman.

Tenure of members: 

  • Every Rajya Sabha member retires after six years and elections to one-third seats are held every two years.
  • According to Section 154 of the Representation of the People Act 1951, a member who has chosen to fill a vacancy will serve for the remaining term of his predecessor.

Permanent house: 

  • Rajya Sabha is the permanent house of our central legislature as it never dissolves like the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha meets in continuous sessions. 
  • Rajya Sabha, like the Lok Sabha can be prorogued by the President

Process of election: 

  • Rajya Sabha members are elected indirectly by the the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the states and by the members of the Electoral College for the respective Union Territory,
  • Members vote in the Rajya Sabha elections in a system of proportional representation with the single transferable vote (STV) system. 
  • Each members vote is counted only once.
  • To win a Rajya Sabha seat, a candidate should get a required number of votes. That number is found out using the below formula. 
  • Required vote = Total number of votes / (Number of Rajya Sabha seats + 1 ) + 1.

Example of Rajya Sabha election process-

Let’s take an example of a state where there is Rajya Sabha election for suppose 5 seats. Let us consider that there are only two parties in the legislative assembly of that particular state. Party A suppose has 150 seats and party B has 50 seats. Both parties can field 5 candidates each for the 5 Rajya sabha seats.

So as per the above formula, To win a Rajya Sabha seat, a candidate should get a particular number (quotient) of votes which can be derived-

Quotient = Total number of votes divided by (Number of Rajya Sabha seats + 1 ) + 1.

In the illustrated case, a candidate requires (200/6)+1, ie. 34 votes to win.

It must be noted that in this system of proportional representation the MLA’s doesn’t vote for each seat. If that had happened then only the ruling party representatives would win the seats. 

Rather, the members assign their preferences for each candidate (like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). If in the above illustrated case, 34 or more members choose a candidate as their first choice, he gets elected.