The Bahujan Samaj Party’s announcement on Saturday to back Vivek Tankha, the Congress nominee for Rajya Sabha election from the state, caught the BJP unawares as the ruling party was hoping to get the support of four BSP MLAs for the party-backed candidate, Vinod Gontia.
Biennial elections to 57 seats of the Rajya Sabha, including three from Madhya Pradesh, will be held on June 11.
BJP’s Anil Madhav Dave and MJ Akbar are almost certain to get elected to the upper house of parliament from the state. However, the party was eying the third seat, too, through Independent candidate Gontia, who happens to be the state BJP general secretary.
Till the BSP extended its support to Tankha, the BJP looked upbeat as it expected support from the Mayawati-led party.
BJP leaders were confident that apart from the BJP’s 50 MLAs, Gontia would get the support from three independents, taking the tally to 53. If the party could manage the four BSP MLAs’ support, Gontia would run short of just one MLA to win the Rajya Sabha seat, they thought.
The Congress’ strength in the MP assembly is 57, and the party candidate required just one vote to make it to parliament for the first time. However, with the BSP extending its support to Tankha, he now has 61 votes, three more than required.
“If BJP wanted to cause any defection in the Congress by wooing a few of its MLAs, they would be hesitant now. For, they will not be sure if their defection would really result in Vivek Tankha’s defeat given BSP’s support to him. Why one should defect if his vote may go waste?” a BJP leader said.
However, he said, this didn’t mean BJP leaders would sit idle. In fact, the party leaders in Delhi would still make efforts to turn the table on the Congress as only eight more votes are required to win the third RS seat.
Another BJP leader said even if the party couldn’t get the third seat, fielding of the third candidate, though independent, helped it to see the regional parties’ equations with it and the Congress ahead of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. That will help the party to move cautiously in UP in stitching alliances with regional parties, if required, he said.
“BJP believes in principled politics and doesn’t believe in horse-trading. It has fielded its two candidates and has extended its support to an Independent candidate,” said BJP leader Shailendra Sharma.