SP chief whip resigns ahead of Rajya Sabha polls amid fears of cross-voting | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SP chief whip resigns ahead of Rajya Sabha polls amid fears of cross-voting

Feb 27, 2024 12:58 PM IST

Polling was being held for 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh, four in Karnataka, and one in Himachal Pradesh after 41 candidates were elected unopposed

Opposition Samajwadi Party (SP)’s chief whip in the Uttar Pradesh assembly resigned ahead of elections to 15 Rajya Sabha seats across three states on Tuesday amid fears of cross-voting a day after he was among eight legislators to skip a meeting on the polls.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah voting in Bengaluru. (PTI)
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah voting in Bengaluru. (PTI)

Polling was being held for 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh, four in Karnataka, and one in Himachal Pradesh after 41 candidates were elected unopposed to the Upper House of Parliament weeks before the national elections are due to be held this summer.

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Manoj Kumar Pandey wrote a letter to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, informing him about his decision to step down as the chief whip. A lawmaker from Unchahar in Raebareli, Pandey was a minister in the previous SP government. He was among eight SP lawmakers, who skipped the meeting Yadav called to brief legislators about the Rajya Sabha voting process.

News agency Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary confirming the eight did not attend a dinner and the meeting.

Yadav slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for adopting “all means” to win elections. “Those who wanted to profit from the situation will go. Those who were promised will go,” he said when asked about the absence of SP lawmakers from his meeting. “You have seen what happened in Chandigarh in front of CCTV cameras. I thank the Supreme Court which saved the Constitution,” he said, referring to the ballot tampering in the Chandigarh mayoral polls.

Yadav said the BJP can adopt all tricks to win elections. “It must have given assurance of some profit... The BJP will do anything to win,” he said.

The ruling BJP and SP have the numbers to send seven and three members to Rajya Sabha. The BJP has fielded Sanjay Seth as its eighth candidate. Seth is an industrialist and former SP leader, who joined the BJP in 2019. Any cross-voting from SP lawmakers could help get Seth elected.

The BJP has 252 members and the SP 108 in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly. The BJP-led alliance has an effective strength of 287 in the House. To get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, a candidate needs 37 first-preference votes.

The SP has fielded actor Jaya Bachchan, Ramji Lal Suman, and former bureaucrat Alok Ranjan but has not specified who the third preference candidate is.

Ahead of the voting for the four Rajya Sabha seats in Karnataka, the ruling Congress claimed it could also get the support of two independents and the lone member of Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha, and that it was confident of winning three seats.

The Congress and the BJP-Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) alliance sent their lawmakers to resorts on Monday and briefed new members on the election process amid fears of cross-voting.

The Congress has 133 lawmakers, excluding the Speaker, while the BJP and JD(S) have 66 and 19 in the 223-member House. Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha lawmaker G Janardhana Reddy met chief minister Siddaramaiah ahead of the polls on Monday.

Each candidate needs to get 45 votes to win. Ajay Maken, Syed Naseer Hussain, G C Chandrasekhar of the Congress, BJP’s Narayansa Bandage and Kupendra Reddy of JD(S) are contesting the polls. On its own, the Congress is one vote short of ensuring victory for all its three candidates.

In Himachal Pradesh, chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said lawmakers voted for the lone Rajya Sabha seat in the state as per the ideology of the ruling Congress.

BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur said it was the democratic right of the lawmakers to vote and the candidate did not need to be elected unopposed. “We have fielded the candidate gauging the situation and hope that all lawmakers would exercise their conscious vote,” he said.

The BJP has fielded Harsh Mahajan against Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi in Himachal Pradesh. To win, a candidate needs 35 votes. The Congress has 40 lawmakers and three independents have backed it. The BJP has 25 lawmakers.

The Congress issued a whip to its lawmakers to vote for Singhvi. The BJP maintained the ruling Congress did so to pressurise lawmakers and filed a complaint saying the whip could affect their decision-making ability.

The voting began at 9am on Tuesday and will go on until 4pm. The counting will start from 5pm.

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