Presidential polls: Confident of numbers, BJP looking to divide Oppn more in UP
The vote value of each UP MLA who will vote in the presidential poll is 208, the highest in the country and the value of vote of MPs is 700
As voting for presidential polls began in Uttar Pradesh on Monday, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) is looking forward to seeing how much they will succeed in further scattering opposition votes so that UP makes a grander contribution in ensuring a bigger win for BJP-led-NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu.
Right through the run up to the Monday polls, party strategists first appealed to the main opposition Samajwadi Party, to back Murmu over opposition nominee and former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha.
As SP didn’t respond to BJP’s overtures, the ruling party started working on plan B, as part of which in the days preceding the Monday polling, newspaper clippings featuring criticism of Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav by former BJP leader and now opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha started doing the rounds on social media.
To aid the BJP’s plan, party strategists reportedly dug out a 25-year-old newspaper clipping of 1997, shared by party’s BJP’s social media head in UP, Ankit Singh Chandel.
This clipping is about the then BJP leader Sinha’s fierce criticism of the then defence minister and present Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, who the former had accused of being an ‘ISI agent.’
“So Akhilesh Yadav ji is backing a person who had described Mulayam Singh ji of being an ISI agent,” said Chandel.
Similarly, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav, who heads the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) and has already pledged support to Murmu, slammed SP chief for backing Sinha.
He has also written an “open letter” to Akhilesh, urging him to reconsider his party’s backing of Sinha and stated, “SP cadres would be angered at the slightest insult to Netaji, and now the leaders of the same legacy are to vote for a leader, who insulted Netaji.”
On their part, the SP leaders read Shivpal’s “open letter” as a “BJP’s ploy to incite and confuse SP lawmakers”.
Shivpal was not invited to the welcome meeting the SP leadership had organised for Sinha in Lucknow on July 7, though he attended a dinner hosted by chief minister Yogi Adityanath for NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu on July 8.
SP has 111 MLAs in the UP assembly and BJP strategists will be hoping to create a divide.
The vote value of each UP MLA who will vote in the presidential poll is 208, the highest in the country. The value of vote of MPs is 700. The result of the presidential poll will be declared on July 21, three days before the term of the current President Ram Nath Kovind expires on July 24.
BJP and allies have 273 lawmakers in UP assembly and thus have a total vote value of 56,784.
Additionally, 6 lawmakers of SP’s ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (vote value: 1248), two MLAs of Jansatta Dal, Loktantrik (vote value: 416), and one MLA each of Bahujan Samaj Party and PSP (L) (vote value: 416), too have pledged support to BJP candidate.
Thus, the total value of support for the BJP candidate drawing from lawmakers in UP at present is 58,864.
Besides, the BJP is also assured of the support of 66 of its Lok Sabha MPs (vote value: 46,200). It will also get the support of 10 BSP MPs from UP (vote value: 7000).
Thus, the total vote value of support of LS MPs that the BJP candidate is assured of is: 53,200.
The BJP has 25 Rajya Sabha from UP while one BSP RS MP too is supporting Murmu making it a total vote value of 18,200. Overall, this means that Murmu is sure to get 1, 30, 264 vote value from UP.
The BJP plan is to divide the opposition vote further.
Of the 125 lawmakers who were part of SP alliance, 6 SBSP MLAs have already pledged support to Murmu. The remaining 118 MLAs with SP-RLD alliance have a cumulative vote value of 24, 544.
Two Congress MLAs will take this up to 24, 960. In RS, SP alliance has 5 MPs (vote value: 17,500) while in LS the 3 SP MPs will contribute a vote value of 2100 to Sinha.
Congress’s lone UP MP in LS will add another 700 value points to the opposition bid but that will make it an overall 45, 260 vote value for Sinha, about 85,004 less than Murmu.
Despite sitting pretty, the BJP is still working to extend the lead of NDA’s presidential nominee.
“We hope the SP lawmakers hear their voice of conscience and vote accordingly,” said UP BJP lawmaker and vice president Vijay Bahadur Pathak, clearly playing on Yashwant Sinha’s appeal to the lawmakers across the country to hear their “voice of conscience.”
As part of a plan to drive confusion in opposition camp, former UP minister and BJP lawmaker Sidharth Nath Singh also tweeted, “I am surprised how can Rahul Gandhi and Tejaswi Yadav support Yashwant Sinha ji, who had once insulted Sonia Gandhi calling her ‘ghamandi (haughty)’ and Lalu Yadav ‘bujha hua kartoos (spent force).” While eyeing division in the opposition camp, BJP strategists have ensured that each vote is protected.
At a two-day training programme organised by the BJP in Lucknow, all the party lawmakers, especially first timers, were briefed on how to vote.
At this training programme, all top BJP leaders, including chief minister Adityanath, deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya, Brajesh Pathak and others were present.
“In 2017, around 35 votes had been wasted due to faulty voting. That is why the party wants to guard against this and ensure that no vote is wasted,” a BJP lawmaker said.
Five of the 403 lawmakers in UP had got permission from Election Commission of India to vote out of the state, Brij Bhushan Dubey, the presiding officer for the presidential polls in UP said.
Arrangements in place
Polling for presidential polls began in UP under tight security in the Tilak Hall of the state assembly on Monday.
“All arrangements are in place for presidential poll voting here,” said Brij Bhushan Dubey, the presiding officer for presidential poll in UP.
The lawmakers had started arriving at room number 80, from gate number 7, of the Vidhan Sabha to collect their voter slips.
Two ballot boxes, sent for polling by ECI to Lucknow were moved out of the high security room number 54 and taken to the Tilak Hall of the UP Vidhan Sabha for the voting.
After polls, these ballot boxes would be sent to Delhi where all ballot boxes would be sent ahead of the July 21 counting.
Dubey said five MLAs had opted to vote out of Lucknow.
“Lawmaker Neel Ratan Patel will cast his vote in Thiruvananthapuram while four others have been granted permission by EC to vote in the Parliament. These are Mukesh Choudhary, Pradeep Kumar Singh, Zia-Ur-Rehman and Brij Bhushan Rajput,” he said. These MLAs include three from BJP and one each from SP and RLD.
Rajya Sabha secretary general PC Mody is the returning officer for these presidential polls.