RS Polls: A tale of crossover voting, breach of trust and upset - Hindustan Times
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RS Polls: A tale of crossover voting, breach of trust and upset

Feb 27, 2024 10:47 PM IST

On Monday night, as many as eight MLAs did not turn up for the huddle-and-dinner that Akhilesh hosted at the party’s state headquarters. The absence of the eight SP MLAs, including Pandey and Singh, triggered a certain despondency in the SP camp at the dinner meet.

LUCKNOW: Around noon on February 13, the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief whip and Unchahaar (Rae Bareli) MLA Manoj Pandey, along with the SP Gauriganj (Amethi) MLA Rakesh Pratap Singh, represented SP chief Akhilesh Yadav at the first-ever religious event—the worshipping of Bhagwaan Shaligram—on the party’s state headquarters premises and incessantly gave sound bytes to reporters. Four-time SP Rajya Sabha member and actor Jaya Bachchan also stood in close proximity with both the leaders.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Alok Ranjan with party MLAs after the polling (HT Photo)
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Alok Ranjan with party MLAs after the polling (HT Photo)

An hour later, Manoj Pandey and Rakesh Pratap Singh, the party’s prominent Brahmin and Thakur faces respectively, were with Akhilesh at the UP Vidhan Bhavan to attend the nomination filing of SP Rajya Sabha candidates—Jaya Bachchan, ex-UP chief secretary Alok Ranjan, and the Dalit SP leader Ramji Lal Suman. Rakesh Pratap Singh was also the proposer for Ranjan and Suman.

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Even both were repeatedly seen accusing the BJP of doing politics of religion and hailing the SP as the party that respects all religions.

The SP apparently had no inkling until Sunday of the scale of upset that the party had in store. On Monday night, as many as eight MLAs did not turn up for the huddle-and-dinner that Akhilesh hosted at the party’s state headquarters. The absence of the eight SP MLAs, including Pandey and Singh, triggered a certain despondency in the SP camp at the dinner meet.

On poll day, Tuesday, over two hours after the SP chief Akhilesh Yadav cast his vote in the Tilak Hall of the Vidhan Bhavan, the SP MLAs Manoj Pandey, Rakesh Pratap Singh, Rakesh Pandey, Pooja Pal, Vinod Chaturvedi, Ashutosh Maurya, and Abhay Singh trouped in together with the BJP MLAs—the deputy chief minister Brijesh Pandey and the transport minister Dayashankar Singh—and cast their votes for the eighth BJP candidate, Sanjay Seth.

Seth, 63, is a prominent UP realtor and former Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha member (2016-2022). Sanjay Seth maintained a confident demeanour while standing in the middle of the skywalk to the Tilak Hall. He waved a victory sign--every now with his phone glued to an ear, while every SP MLA who went in and out showered attack on the BJP over the ‘horse trading, pressure tactics, allurements’.

For the ten UP RS seats in the biennial elections, there were eight BJP candidates (including Sanjay Seth) and three SP candidates. All the BJP candidates registered wins while SP’s third candidate—ex-bureaucrat and SP war room manager Alok Ranjan lost.

The RS polls made a dent in the SP PDA (backwards, Dalit, minorities) posturing before and during the polls as there were voices of dissent already within the party for deviation from the PDA formula and giving tickets to two upper-caste members instead of pushing for a Dalit, a non-Yadav OBC, and a Muslim. Pallavi Patel, SP MLA from Sirathu (Kaushambhi), openly declared that she would abstain from voting over the issue. However, she eventually voted—but for the Dalit candidate.

The cross-voters damaged the caste bouquet of the SP. Manoj Pandey, Vinod Chaturvedi, and Rakesh Pandey are Brahmins; Rakesh Pratap Singh and Abhay Singh (Thakur); Pooja Pal, Ashutosh Maurya, and Maharaji Prajapati (who abstained) are non-Yadav OBCs.

The SP had 108 MLAs and had the support of two Congress MLAs. But two of its MLAs were in jail, so the effective strength of the SP camp was 106. It needed 111 first preference votes (37 as an average for each candidate). Seven cross-votes and one abstention from the SP ruined the game for the SP.

“The SP had one possible cross-vote from Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) MLA Jagdish Narain from Zafarabad, Jaunpur. But it was eventually proved useless. However, it showed that the SP was orchestrating cross-voting from the rivals’ camps,” said Piyush Mishra, SBSP spokesperson.

The SP chief Akhilesh Yadav did not hide the shock the polls sent his party into. At the start of the voting, Akhilesh said: “The BJP can get anything done.”

Meanwhile, SP MLA Ravidas Mehrotra, said: “All those who cross-voted will be expelled from the party.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Pankaj Jaiswal is Chief of Bureau, Uttar Pradesh and covers politics. His continued interest in rural, distress, and development journalism, fetched him a handful of prestigious awards and fellowships. Pankaj is a photo-journalist too and tweets at @augustus29lotus

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