Rajya Sabha has a total of 245 seats and 126 seats are needed for a majority in the house. Members of state assemblies elect Rajya Sabha members by a process of indirect voting in what is called proportional representation with a single transferable vote.
- Each voter ranks his preference, and if the first candidate on the list has enough votes to win or no chance of winning, the vote is transferred to the next choice and so on.
- Rajya Sabha members are elected for a six-year term. One-third of the members of the Upper House of parliament retire after every two years.
- Only elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies can vote in a Rajya Sabha election.
- The legislators send a batch of new members to the Upper House every two years for a six-year term.
- A third of Members of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha (which is a permanent House and is not subject to dissolution), from each State retire once in two years and polls are held to fill up the vacancies.
- In addition, vacancies that arise due to resignation, death or disqualification are filled up through bypolls after which those elected serve out the remainder of their predecessors’ term.
- Voting is by single transferable vote, as the election is held on the principle of proportional representation.
- In other words, a bloc of MPs belonging to one or more parties can elect a member of their choice if they have the requisite numbers.
- This is to avoid the principle of majority, which would mean that only candidates put up by ruling parties in the respective States will be elected.
- The Delhi and Puducherry Assemblies elect members to the Rajya Sabha to represent the two Union Territories.
- Candidates fielded by political parties have to be proposed by at least 10 members of the Assembly or 10% of the party’s strength in the House, whichever is less.
- For independents, there should be 10 proposers, all of whom should be members of the Assembly.
What is a single transferable vote?
A single transferable vote means electors can vote for any number of candidates in order of their preference. A candidate requires a specified number of first preference votes to win. Each first choice vote has a value of 100 in the first round. To qualify, a candidate needs one point more than the quotient obtained by dividing the total value of the number of seats for which elections are taking place plus one.
There is no secret ballot in the Rajya Sabha Elections
- The Rajya Sabha polls have a system of open ballot, but it is a limited form of openness.
- As a measure to check rampant cross-voting, which was taken to mean that the vote had been purchased by corrupt means, the system of each party MLA showing his or her marked ballots to the party’s authorised agent, before they are put into the ballot box, has been introduced.
- Showing a marked ballot to anyone other than one’s own party’s authorised agent will render the vote invalid.
NOTA Does not apply to the Rajya Sabha polls
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) issued two circulars, on January 24, 2014 and November 12, 2015, giving Rajya Sabha members the option to press the NOTA button in the Upper House polls.
- However, in 2018, the Supreme Court of India struck down the provision, holding that the ‘none of the above’ option is only for general elections held on the basis of universal adult suffrage, and cannot be applied to indirect elections based on proportional representation.
- According to a Supreme Court ruling, not voting for the party candidate will not attract disqualification under the anti-defection law.
- As voters, MLAs retain their freedom to vote for a candidate of their choice.
- However, the Court observed that since the party would know who voted against its own candidate, it is free to take disciplinary action against the legislator concerned.