For both the ruling party and the Opposition, every Rajya Sabha seat counts as any Bill. Barring those designated as Money Bills by the Lok Sabha Speaker, it needs the assent of the second chamber to become law. Rajya Sabha, or the Council of States, has 245 seats. Leave aside from reaching the halfway mark of 123, no ruling party has ever touched the 100 mark in the last three-and-a-half decades. The BJP-led NDA fleetingly touched 100 in April but its strength is down to 95. Now after the retirement of five of the nominated members who had taken BJP membership.
The NDA government has so far managed to get crucial Bills farm laws. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, or the Citizenship Amendment Act passed with the help of allies and the support of other parties such as AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal, and YSR Congress. Rajya Sabha has a limited role in the case of Money Bills. It cannot amend a Money Bill but can recommend amendments within a stipulated time. Lok Sabha may either accept or reject all or any of these.
How often are the Rajya Sabha elections held?
Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and cannot be dissolved. To ensure continuity, one-third of its members retire after every second year, under Article 83(1) of the Constitution. And biennial elections are held to fill these vacancies. The term of a member is six years. Out of the 245 members, 12 are nominated by the President. 233 are representatives of the States and Union territories of Delhi and Puducherry. Vacancies arising due to resignation, death, or disqualification are filled up through bypolls. Those elected serve out the remainder of their predecessor’s term. Under Article 80(3), the 12 nominated members should have special knowledge or practical experience in matters like literature, science, art, etc. A nominated member may join a party within six months of taking a seat.