RS polls in UP set for a nail-biting finish

Insight Online News

Lucknow, Feb 27 : The Rajya Sabha biennial elections to 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh are set for a nail-biting finish on Tuesday as legislators begin to switch loyalties hours before the polling begins.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath hosted a dinner for NDA MLAs on Monday night and Jansatta Dal-Loktantrik chief Raja Bhaiya, who had announced his support to the BJP candidates, was among those present.

Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav also hosted a dinner for his legislators around the same time but seven legislators did not turn up.

Though SP leaders kept insisting that the legislators would turn up later while some of them had informed the party high command about their absence due to personal reasons, the fact was that there was panic in the SP camp. Those who stayed away included Rakesh Pandey – father of BSP MP Ritesh Pandey who had joined the BJP recently, Abhay Singh, Rakesh Pratap Singh, Manoj Pandey, Vinod Chaturvedi, Maharaji Prajapati and Puja Pal.

A total of 11 candidates are in the fray with the BJP and the SP have the numbers to send seven and three members respectively. But BJP’s Sanjay Seth as its eighth candidate, has necessitated a keen contest.

BJP had earlier announced only seven names including former Union Minister R.P.N. Singh, former Agra mayor Navin Jain, BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, former Mathura MP Chaudhary Tejveer Singh, former UP MLAs Sangeeta Balwant and Sadhna Singh, along with state BJP General Secretary Amar Pal Maurya.

The SP has fielded three candidates including Jaya Bachchan, who is the four-time RS MP and is being given the fifth term, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan and Ramji Lal Suman.

Of the 10 seats going to be vacant on April 2, nine are from BJP quota and one — Jaya Bachchan — from SP.

According to Returning Officer Brij Bhushan Dubey, a candidate will need 36.37 first preference votes to register a win. At present, there are 399 MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

“Polling will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. while the counting will commence from 5 p.m. and results are likely to be announced on Tuesday night,” he added.

The BJP and its allies have the support of 286 MLAs — BJP (252), Apna Dal (S) (13), Nishad Party (6), SBSP (6) and RLD (9). Raghuraj Pratap Singh (Raja Bhaiya), with two MLAs, has also assured his support to the BJP.

The strength of SBSP is five as MLA Abbas Ansari, son of jailed gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, is in jail. As a result, the NDA’s strength is expected to be 287 against 290.96 needed by the ruling alliance to ensure victory of its all eight candidates. In such a scenario, NDA is falling short of around 3-4 votes.

On the other, the SP requires the support of 110 MLAs for its three candidates. The party is relying on its 108 MLAs of which two – Irfan Solanki and Ramakant Yadav — are lodged in jail on criminal charges. This lessens SP’s strength to 106.

With the support of two Congress MLAs, SP can increase its tally to 108, which will, still be short of one to two votes.

The missing MLAs from the party dinner could turn the tables in favour of the BJP candidates though these MLAs did not attend the chief minister’s dinner either.

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