UP Rajya Sabha Polls: Lobbying from both sides makes it anybody’s game

Amid intense lobbying from both sides -- ruling BJP alliance and joint opposition – the biennial election for 10 Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh is turning out to be a battle of nerves

lucknow Updated: Mar 22, 2018 12:07 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP Rajya Sabha Polls,Uttar Pradesh,BJP
Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav at the SP dinner meeting.(HT Photo)

Amid intense lobbying from both sides -- ruling BJP alliance and joint opposition – the biennial election for 10 Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh is turning out to be a battle of nerves.

Although the BJP alliance appeared to be turning the arithmetic against the opposition’s joint nominee and BSP candidate BR Ambedkar, it may need to rework its calculations as unfolding developments make the polls anybody’s game.

Besides the BJP’s nine candidates, who include union finance minister Arun Jaitley, the Samajwadi Party candidate Jaya Bachchan and Ambedkar are in the fray for the March 23 polls.

Hectic activity was witnessed in both the camps on Wednesday with BJP and Samajwadi Party resorting to dinner diplomacy to mobilise support. While SP member Nitin Agarwal’s (son of Naresh Agarwal, who joined the BJP) presence at the BJP alliance meeting at chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence was the highlight, the presence of independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya at the SP’s dinner may have upset the saffron brigade’s calculations to some extent.

“Raja Bhaiya is an ally of Samajwadi Party. So, his presence at the SP dinner is not surprising. Raja Bhaiya will, however, not vote for the BSP candidate,” said a leader close to the independent MLA.

Samajwadi Party MLA Nitin Agarwal(standing) at the BJP alliance dinner meeting. (HT Photo)

The BJP has already mended fences with allies and hopes of getting votes of all the three independents along with support from some opposition’s members.

“About 12 MLAs have been attached to every minister and the meeting will be followed by dinner. We are sure of getting the necessary extra votes for the ninth candidate,” said sources in the BJP camp.

The Samajwadi Party that invited all party MLAs and independents to dinner on Wednesday evening to give a final shape to its strategy was also enthused after former minister Shivpal Singh Yadav reached there. The BSP, too, hosted a dinner for its MLAs while Congress is hosting lunch for party legislators on Thursday. As only 40 out of 47 members turned up at the SP legislature party meeting this morning, questions were raised about their absence. The party leaders, however, said the MLAs had given prior information of their absence. “We have sufficient numbers. The SP and BSP candidates will win for sure,” said SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary.

Although a close scrutiny of party position in the now 402-member assembly initially indicated smooth sailing for the BSP candidate. However, the BJP’s move to field its ninth candidate has upset the opposition’s applecart, tilting the situation in favour of the ruling alliance, which has 324 members.

After allocating 37 votes to each of its first eight candidates, the BJP will have 28 extra votes for the ninth candidate. The SP, with 47 members, will have 10 extra votes after allocating the quota of 37 votes for its candidate.

The BSP, with 19 members, has been banking on support of Congress (7), the RLD (1) and NISHAD Party (1).

The BSP, with a clear committed support of 38 members, was initially finding itself in a comfortable position.

But support of SP member Nitin Agarwal and NISHAD Party (it supported the SP in by-elections to Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats) MLA Vijay Mishra will increase the BJP’s tally and dampen the BSP candidate’s hopes to some extent.

The BJP will have to mobilise extra support from the opposition’s camp if two or three independents go with the SP alliance.

Lobbying in both the BJP and the opposition camps is bound to lead to cross voting and upset calculations.

“We have seven MLAs and they will vote for the BSP candidate. We have issued whip to all party MLAs,” said Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar Lallu. Senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari also said all party MLAs would vote for the BSP candidate.

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 12:07 IST