It will be a contest between NDA candidate Harivansh and Opposition joint candidate Tiruchi Siva for the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, elections for which are scheduled for 3pm on the first day of the Parliament's Monsoon Session on September 14.
The term of JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP Harivansh expired in April, leading to the vacant post. But he was again nominated again by Nitish Kumar's party, in alliance with the BJP for another term. Harivansh will be the NDA candidate for the post and the name of DMK MP Tiruchi Siva has been doing the rounds as his opponent. This after Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel to reach out to like-minded parties to field a joint candidate.
Siva was recently nominated to the Upper House and is now part of an elite group of MPs sent to the Rajya Sabha for the fourth time and the first DMK MP to achieve this feat.
Sources say Azad has spoken to close to 10 like-minded parties, including DMK's MK Stalin who cleared Siva's name, as well as NCP, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi, Bahujan Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress.
Meanwhile, the government has also reached out to all NDA allies about the choice of candidates.
Sources say both sides would like to have neutral parties who have played the role of fence-sitters on most occasions. While Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress has six Rajya Sabha MPs, Biju Janata Dal has nine and TRS seven.
The BJP has 86 MPs, JDU has five, Akali Dal three, AIADMK has nine members, four nominated and two independent MPs will be with the NDA along with single-member parties like Ramadoss's MDMK, Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP, and RPI's Ramdas Athawale. This puts the NDA in a comfortable position.
Neutral parties have more than often been siding with the NDA. The alliance candidate is looking at securing about 138 out of a strength of 243 in the House.
The last date for filing nomination for the post is September 11.
Harivansh was elected to the post of Deputy Chairman last year when he took over from Congress's PJ Kurien. The former defeated BK Hariprasad, winning 125 votes.
A late-night strategy meeting on the election is underway at the residence of Home Minister Amit Shah, along with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and BJP Rajya Sabha floor managers.