The Upper House of parliament is called the Rajya Sabha (RS). It is also known as the ‘Council of States’ since the members of Rajya Sabha are elected by the legislators of state assemblies. Each state has a fixed number of RS seats and 1/3rd of them come up for election every 2 years. Article 80 of the constitution stipulates the maximum size of the house. The number of elected RS members from the States & UTs cannot be more than 238. Apart from the elected members, 12 members can be nominated by the President of India. Currently, there are 233 elected members and 12 nominated members.
The process of Rajya Sabha Election
The representatives of the States and of the Union Territories in the Rajya Sabha are elected by the method of indirect election. The representatives of each State and two Union territories are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of that State and by the members of the Electoral College for that Union Territory, as the case may be, in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
Election to Rajya Sabha: Procedure Illustrated with an Example
The Rajya Sabha seat quota for each state is fixed as per Schedule 4 of the constitution. Elections to 1/3 of these seats occur every 2 years. Let’s take an example of a state where there is Rajya Sabha election for 3 seats. Let there be only two parties in the legislative assembly. Party A has 100 seats and party B has 40 seats. Both parties can field three candidates each for the three Rajya Sabha seats.
To win a Rajya Sabha seat, a candidate should get a required number of votes. That number (quotient) is found out using the below formula.
Quotient = Total number of votes divided by (Number of Rajya Sabha seats + 1 ) + 1.
In the illustrated case, a candidate requires (140/4)+1, ie. 36 votes to win.
NB: Members don’t vote for each seat. If that had been the case then only the ruling party representatives would make it through. Rather, the members give preferences for each candidate (as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6).
If 36 or more members choose a candidate as their first choice, he gets elected. So the Party B (opposition party in Loksabha assembly) with 40 seats can get one member elected if the members give preference for a candidate as first preference. The ruling party (Party A) on the other hand can get 2 members elected (72 votes from their 100 members).