The BJP hopes to gain from the perceived father-son rift in the Samajwadi Party and also some votes from the BSP in the Presidential election on Monday. Although Ram Nath Kovind, the candidate for the ruling NDA, looks poised to win, the BJP wants a record number of votes in Uttar Pradesh. The party’s hope of getting Samajwadi votes lies in Mulayam Singh Yadav and legislators who are close to him. Mulayam had recently praised the BJP top leadership for picking Kovind and he had also attended a dinner that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had organised in honour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Lucknow visit on June 20.
Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav skipped the dinner. Mulayam also did not attend the iftar that Akhilesh hosted in Lucknow on June 19 and the birthday celebration of his cousin brother Ram Gopal Yadav. Mulayam’s brother and SP MLA Shivpal Singh Yadav announced his support for Kovind in Varanasi on Friday. “There are some MLAs who want to enjoy the support of the ruling party for a bright future in politics. Such MLAs could support NDA nominee,” said a BJP leader. The SP has 47 MLAs, five Lok Sabha members and 18 Rajya Sabha members from UP.
About the BJP’s efforts at getting some votes from the Opposition side, party spokesperson Chandra Mohan said: “As the NDA has fielded its candidate, we have appealed to all in UP to vote for Kovindji because he belongs to this state.” Only elected legislators in Parliament and state Assemblies can vote in the Presidential election. Samajwadi Party chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary rubbished the possibility of party MPs and MLAs voting for the NDA’s candidate. “The BJP will not succeed in its agenda. All party MPs and MLAs would follow the decision of party president Akhilesh Yadav who has asked them to vote for Meira Kumar,” he said.
The BSP leader in the Assembly, Lalji Verma, said: “The party has decided to vote for Meira Kumar,” and no one would vote for the BJP’s candidate. There are 312 MLAs of the BJP, nine of the Apna Dal (Soneylal) and four of the SBSP in the UP Assembly. The BJP has 71 Lok Sabha members while the Apna Dal (Soneylal) has two from UP. The BJP has three Rajya Sabha members from the state. The Apna Dal and the SBSP are partners of the BJP.
The BSP has 19 MLAs and six Rajya Sabha members from the state. The Congress has seven MLAs, two Lok Sabha members and three Rajya Sabha members from the state. UP CM Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, who have not resigned as MPs, and Union Minister Uma Bharti have obtained permission from the Election Commission to vote from Lucknow Monday, while all other MPs would cast their votes in Parliament. There are three independent MLAs — Raghuraj Pratap Singh of Kunda, Vinod Kumar of Babaganj and Aman Mani Tripathi of Nautanwa. Raghuraj could not be contacted and his associate and Babaganj MLA Kumar said: “I will follow the decision of Raja Bhaiyya (Raghuraj). He is yet to decide on the candidate.” Tripathi has frequently met Adityanath at different events.