Exactly a month after she had helped the Congress win the vote of confidence in the Uttarakhand Assembly, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati is set to facilitate the victory of Congress candidates in Rajya Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand Saturday.
Although Mayawati did not formally announce her support to Congress nominees while speaking to the media in Lucknow Thursday, she gave a fair indication of what she was up to. “Whom we will support (in Rajya Sabha polls), whom we won’t, you will get to know after the results,” the former UP chief minister said. “In UP, the Samajwadi Party and BJP are internally together.”
Congress candidates who are set to sail through due to the BSP’s backing include former Union minister Kapil Sibal (from UP) and Vivek Tankha (Madhya Pradesh). Two Congress-backed candidates — Kamal Morarka (Rajasthan) and R K Anand (Haryana) — are also expected to benefit from the BSP support.
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It would be naïve, however, to suppose that Mayawati is getting closer to the Congress, and can even join hands with the party. The fact is that she is gearing up for the crucial UP Assembly polls, due early next year. Given that the SP’s graph is on the slide, she has to check a resurgent BJP while she makes a bid for grabbing power in the state.
The scene in UP, where 11 seats are up for grabs, has been enlivened with the entry of a BJP-supported Independent, Preeti Mahapatra, wife of a Mumbai-based builder. The Congress has 29 MLAs and Sibal needs another five votes to swing the seat on the basis of first-preference votes. The BSP, with 80 members in a House of 403, can spare 12 votes to bail out Sibal after ensuring the victory of its nominees Satish Chandra Mishra and Ashok Sidharth.
The SP can easily bag six seats but has put up seven candidates. The last candidate is short of nine votes. The party has arranged for his victory by getting support of RLD, which has eight MLAs.
The BJP, which has only seven votes in excess of the requisite 34, has fielded Shiv Pratap Shukla. This means Mahapatra needs another 27 votes to win. Although cross-voting can be expected, it’s unlikely to go up to 27.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BSP has four members in the 230-member Assembly. The BJP has 164, followed by Congress’s 57. Vivek Tankha needs just one vote to win the seat. The BJP is in a position to comfortably win the other two, but it has created an uncertainty by fielding its state general secretary Vinod Gotia as an Independent.
In Uttarakhand, the Congress with 27 MLAs, is two short of the quota of 29 for its candidate, Pradeep Tamta. The BJP has 28 MLAs. The BSP, which has two members, is backing the Congress, along with a lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal member and three Independents.
The BJP was confident of winning all four seats in Rajasthan. However, Morarka’s entry has forced the party to shed its complacency. A candidate needs 41 votes to win. The ruling BJP has 160 members, followed by 24 of the Congress, four of the National People’s Party, three of the BSP, two of the National Unionist Zamindara Party and seven Independents. The Congress is supporting Morarka. The BSP is also expected to go along, while BJP is expected to enlist support of the rest.
Equations have changed in Haryana, where both the Congress (17 MLAs) and the INLD (19 MLAs) have thrown their weight behind Independent candidate R K Anand. He is expected to get the support of one member each of BSP and Akali Dal and poll votes in excess of the quota of 31.
BJP’s Birender Singh is expected to win, but Anand is set to defeat Zee Group owner Subhash Chandra, a BJP-backed candidate.