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In UP, BJP in a dilemma over Phulpur Lok Sabha seat

Electoral statistics from the last assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh point to a tough fight if the BJP goes ahead with a bye-election in the Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 14:55 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Uttar Pradesh,Phulpur LS constituency,Bye-election
The BJP runs a risk of losing the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat in a bye-election if Keshav Prasad Maurya (above) resigns to join the UP legislative assembly or council..(HT PHOTO)

The BJP finds itself on the horns of a dilemma over the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat with a section of the leadership unsure whether the party will win a bye-election if incumbent MP and Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya resigns.

Maurya took over as deputy CM on March 19 has to get elected to the legislative assembly or the council within six months. His resignation will necessitate a bye-election, which Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati is reportedly eyeing. Mayawati resigned from the Rajya Sabha last week, a few months ahead of her retirement in April 2018.

The BJP fears that if Mayawati is backed by the entire opposition, she may spring an unpleasant surprise on the party. The BJP is touchy about spoiling its winning spree in Uttar Pradesh which it will also need to win to return to power in the 2019 general elections.

A section of the BJP leadership accepts a bye-election in Phulpur against a combined opposition backing Mayawati would be too high a risk to take. The Phulpur parliamentary constituency includes five assembly segments – Phaphamau, Soraon (SC), Phulpur, Allahabad West and Allahabad North.

Maurya polled 503564 votes in Phulpur and won the 2014 Lok Sabha election defeating his nearest rival from the Samajwadi Party by a margin of over 3 lakh votes.

Read more: UP Lok Sabha by-poll: Will opposition unite to take on mighty BJP?

But it is the result of this year’s assembly election (see box) which is at the core of the BJP’s worries. The SP, BSP and the Congress together polled more than 1.6 lakh votes than the BJP. The combined strength of these three parties could have defeated the BJP in four out of five assembly segments of Phulpur parliamentary seat.

Maurya’s return to national politics is one of the several propositions being discussed within the BJP. If the BJP decides to avoid a bye-election in Phulpur, Maurya will have to quit as deputy chief minister in the Yogi Adityanath government.

“Yogi is also not happy with Maurya’s style of functioning and has apprised the party leadership about it,” a source close to the CM said. “His exit from UP government seems inevitable.”

Given the BJP’s outreach for the most backward communities of Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, Maurya could get a berth in the Union cabinet which is likely to be reshuffled after the monsoon session of Parliament ends on August 11.

“That would be the last resort,” a BJP leader said. “Do not underestimate Amit Shah. He believes in taking the opposition head on and may surprise the opposition by accepting their challenge.”

A decision on this issue is likely after Shah’s three-day visit to Lucknow beginning July 29.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 14:48 IST