Battle rages for UP’s 10th Rajya Sabha seat

Lucknow: The Rajya Sabha arithmetic in Uttar Pradesh is getting increasingly complicated and the victory of the 10th candidate now depends on the ability of the BJP and the Opposition to ensure cross-voting in their favour.

The Samajwadi Party was in for a rude shock on Wednesday when it convened a meeting of its 47 MLAs, but only 40 showed up to discuss the Rajya Sabha biennial elections. Among the prominent absentees were Shivpal Yadav, who was in Etawah, Azam Khan, his son Abdullah Azam, Subhash Pasi and Kalpnath. Party sources said all the absentees had spoken to Mr Akhilesh Yadav over the phone.

Rebel SP MLA Nitin Agarwal did not attend the party meeting though later in the day he was seen attending a meeting of BJP MLAs at the chief minister’s house. This means the SP has officially lost one MLA, which means it now has only nine surplus votes to offer to the Bahujan Samaj Party after ensuring the victory of its own candidate Jaya Bachchan.

The number of surplus SP votes for the BSP will come down to eight if jailed SP MLA Hariom Yadav is not allowed to come to Lucknow and cast his vote.

The BSP will also be left with 18 votes, instead of 19, because its MLA Mukhtar Ansari is also in jail. The Congress is supporting the BSP candidate with its seven MLAs.

BSP candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar, supported by the SP and Congress, is, therefore, on a sticky wicket with 34 votes — three less than the 37 votes needed to win.

In another development, Vijay Misra, the lone MLA from the Nishad Party (Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal), has formally announced that his vote will go to the BJP.

The Nishad Party, it may be recalled, is in alliance with the Samajwadi Party. SP candidate Pravin Nishad, who recently won the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha byelection, is the younger brother of Sanjay Nishad, president of the Nishad Party.

“There is no party because I won the election on my own strength. I was not consulted when the Nishad Party tied up with the Samajwadi Party and I do not have to consult anyone about my vote now”, Mr Misra told reporters.

Mr Misra will vote for Anil Agarwal, the Independent candidate backed by the BJP for the 10th seat in UP.

Meanwhile, the BJP, which has an effective strength of 324 MLAs in a House of 402, has fielded eight candidates and is backing the ninth candidate — Anil Agarwal, an Independent.

The BJP will have 28 surplus votes after it allots the required 37 votes to each of its eight official candidates. Three Independent members, Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiyya, Vinod Saroj and Aman Mani Tripathi, have announced their support to the BJP, in addition to Vijay Misra.

Raja Bhaiyya, incidentally, was a Cabinet minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government. Apart from this, SP MLA Nitin Agarwal, who is the son of BJP leader Naresh Agarwal, has declared that he will vote for the BJP. The lone RLD MLA is also likely to support the BJP too.

The BJP, therefore, has the support of 34 MLAs for the Independent candidate it is backing. It needs a total of 37 votes to ensure victory, which means that the BJP is still short of three votes.