RS polls: 8 BJP candidates file nomination in UP; Varanasi lawyer springs surprise by filing papers at last minute
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) eight candidates filed their nomination papers for the upcoming Rajya Sabha (RS) polls from Uttar Pradesh (UP) on Tuesday.
However, the buzz around the party fielding a ninth candidate at the last minute turned out to be a damp squib.
The dramatic last-minute filing of nomination papers of a lawyer from Varanasi – only 10 minutes before the process drew to a close – has set up the contest for the 10th RS seat from UP.
The elections are slated to be held on November 9 amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and the results will be declared on the same day.
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Lawyer Prakash Bajaj filed his nomination papers at 2.50 pm on Tuesday and his candidature was supported by 10 lawmakers from the Samajwadi Party (SP).
The move implies that there will be a contest for the 10th vacant RS seat from UP. The Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Ramji Gautam, the party’s national coordinator and Bihar in-charge, is the other contender for the 10th RS seat.
“Now, unless a candidate pulls out by November 3, the last date for withdrawal of nominations, or is disqualified, 11 aspirants will fight for 10 (RS) seats,” said Pradeep Dubey, principal secretary, UP Vidhan Sabha.
Each candidate will require around 37 votes for an outright win.
The BJP and the SP have 304 and 48 members in the UP legislative assembly (MLAs), respectively, and can ensure the victory of their candidates on their own strength.
Gautam will contest against Bajaj, who is fighting as an independent candidate and enjoys the support of at least 10 SP lawmakers.
“Bajaj has exposed the tacit understanding between the BJP and the BSP,” said IP Singh, who belongs to the SP.
Gautam is likely to find the going tough, as the BSP has only 18 lawmakers in the 403-member UP assembly. At present, the assembly’s strength is 395.
The BJP, which did not field a ninth candidate despite a few surplus votes and was purportedly assured the support of some opposition lawmakers, had bolstered Gautam’s chances.
However, the electoral arithmetic was drastically altered because of Bajaj’s entry on Tuesday.
“The move suits the BJP. It can always market its decision to not field a candidate against BSP’s Dalit candidate, while targeting the SP as an anti-Dalit party. The new political formations make it abundantly clear that in the 2022 UP assembly polls, the SP and BSP will contest against each other unlike in 2017. The BJP will relish the prospect, as it seeks to reap benefits owing to a lack of opposition unity,” said Irshad Ilmi, a veteran journalist.
A few SP and BSP MLAs are also in cahoots with the BJP such as Nitin Agarwal and Ramvir Upadhaya, who belong to SP and the BSP, respectively.
Ramvir’s son Chiragvir and Nitin Agarwal’s father Naresh Agarwal have also switched to the BJP.
BSP MLA Anil Singh has also rebelled against his party. Another BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari has been languishing in a Punjab jail for the past 22 months over multiple criminal charges.
The Congress, too, has a couple of lawmakers, who have defied the party line in the past.
Political observers feel that BJP holds the edge in peddling influence over the outcome of the 10th RS seat from UP.
Apna Dal (Sonelal), which has nine lawmakers, followed by the Congress (7), Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) (4), Independents (3), Rashtriya Lok Dal (1) and Nishad Party (1) make up the representations of the other parties in the UP assembly.
Earlier on Tuesday, the eight BJP candidates, including three sitting RS members from UP such as Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri, former Ballia Member of Parliament (MP) Neeraj Shekhar, the son of late Prime Minister Chandrashekhar, and party’s general secretary Arun Singh, whose term had expired on November 25, filed their nomination papers in the presence of chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy CMs Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma among others.
UP minister Haridwar Dubey, three-time MLA Seema Dwivedi, both Brahmins, and former director-general of police (DGP) Brij Lal, a Dalit, are the new BJP nominees for the vacant RS seats from the state.
Two other backward caste (OBC) candidates such as the party’s former Auraiya district chief Geeta Shakya and BL Verma have also been nominated to the Upper House of Parliament.
Verma is the UP BJP vice-president and also the chairman of UP State Construction and Infrastructure Development Corporation (UPSCIDC) Limited.