BJP looks to get Naresh, Bajpai to win over SP dissidents

After winning over Samajwadi Party (SP) heavyweight Naresh Agarwal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now eyeing the disgruntled elements in the Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party for support to its ‘ninth’ candidate who will require nine extra votes in the Rajya Sabha election.

lucknow Updated: Mar 13, 2018 15:20 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
BJP,Bharatiya Janata Party,Samajwadi Party
Ashok Bajpai.(HT Photo)

After winning over Samajwadi Party (SP) heavyweight Naresh Agarwal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now eyeing the disgruntled elements in the Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party for support to its ‘ninth’ candidate who will require nine extra votes in the Rajya Sabha election.

State BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said the party would be left with 28 spare votes as it was certain of the win of eight of its candidates on the basis of 324 lawmakers that the BJP and its allies have in the UP assembly. The effective strength of the 403-member UP assembly is now 402 after the death of a BJP member Lokendra Singh in an accident last month.

Each winner will require 37 votes.

So, the BJP plans to get the remaining nine votes for its extra candidate through Naresh Agarwal and Ashok Bajpai, people familiar with the development said. Both of them were in the Samajwadi Party earlier and are in the BJP now. Bajpai is also a BJP candidate for the Rajya Sabha election. Agarwal and Bajpai are considered political arch rivals in Hardoi from where they hail.

In fact, some BJP leaders said Naresh Agarwal joining the party in the middle of the Rajya Sabha poll process indicated that he may have his role cut out — ‘ensure the win of the BJP’s ninth candidate.’

Agarwal’s son Nitin is a lawmaker from Hardoi. “Of course, we expect him to vote for us. Nareshji has said so himself,” UP BJP leader Harish Srivastava said. That means that BJP will have to look for a vote less.

“But more important is the fact that the BSP candidate will have to look for a vote more,” a party leader said, adding that several independents too were in touch with the BJP.

The party has also tasked several former BSP leaders, who are now with the BJP, to look for potential crossovers from the BSP which is banking on the support of the Congress, the RLD and the SP to ensure the victory of its candidates.

In the previous Rajya Sabha election in 2016, the BJP had managed the support of three Congress lawmakers while three others had voted for the BSP. After the election, the Congress had expelled six MLAs for cross- voting.

“All those lawmakers who are feeling stifled in their own parties will vote for making Modiji’s leadership stronger. We are supporting Modiji’s development vision. The lawmakers would support us,” said Anil Agarwal, who is BJP’s ninth candidate and the chairman of HRIT Group of Institutes, Ghaziabad.

Besides, the role of the Shivpal Yadav faction in the Akhilesh Yadav-led-SP will also come into play, a BJP leader said, adding that it’s here that “Naresh Agarwal will come in handy.”

The BJP leaders said Shivpal Yadav had flouted the party line by voting for the NDA’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind in July last year.

Shivpal Yadav had publicly conceded that he, along with several other SP MLAs, had voted for the NDA nominee. So far, Shivpal Yadav hasn’t revealed his mind.

“Given the troubled relationship he shares with the party, it’s perfectly reasonable for the BJP to feel that he could be useful. Naresh Agarwal and Ashok Bajpai will surely support this. Now, the pressure will be on the united opposition as the BJP has everything to gain,” political analyst SK Dwivedi said.

However, even if the BJP does manage to ensure the win of its extra ‘ninth’ candidate, how does that explain the party fielding 11?

“That might have been done as cover in case some of the three nominations gets rejected on technical grounds. If not, the party, having confused the opposition, will now have the time to decide which of the two candidates it needs to withdraw,” a party leader said.

First Published: Mar 13, 2018 15:20 IST