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THE Election Commission (EC) on Thursday announced byelections on only four of the six MLC seats, which had recently fallen vacant following SP and BSP members quitting their posts. This means that the ruling BJP still needs one Assembly or Legislative Council seat to ensure that five of its ministers could stay on in the state Cabinet.
By September 19, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy CMs Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma and ministers Swatantradeo Singh and Mohsin Raza have to become a member of either of the Houses to continue in the Cabinet. They need to become members of the state Assembly within six months of taking oath as ministers. The Adityanath Cabinet had taken oath of office on March 19.
Five of the six MLCs have resigned allegedly to accommodate these ministers. But the EC has refused to hold elections on two of the six seats on the ground that the remaining tenure of both MLCs was less than a year. If bypolls were announced on even one of these two seats, BJP could have easily got its fifth minister elected to the Council.
According to the EC’s bypoll schedule, the election process to fill four vacant seats will be completed on September 15. While August 29 has been declared as the date of notification, September 5 is the last date of filing nomination and September 8 the last date for withdrawal of candidatures. Polling and counting of votes will take place on September 15. All BJP candidates are likely to get elected comfortably because the party has a majority in the Assembly.
Sources said, though one Assembly seat has fallen vacant following death of a BJP MLA recently, it will not be possible to complete a bypoll on the seat before September 19.
Bypolls have been announced for seats that fell vacant following the resignations of SP’s Bukkal Nawab, Yashwant Singh, Sarojini Agarwal and Ashok Bajpai. They are all a member of the BJP now. While Nawab and Yashwant’s terms would have come to an end on July, 2022, Agarwal and Bajpai’s would have ended in January, 2021.
The other two MLCs — BSP’s Jaiveer Singh and SP’s Ambika Chaudhary — had resigned on July 29 and August 9, respectively. While Jaiveer too had joined BJP, Chaudhary had joined BSP before the UP polls. However, EC officials said Chaudhary and Jaiveer Singh’s terms were to end on May 5, next year. Since this is less than a year, bypolls cannot be held to fill these vacant seats. “General election will be conducted to fill these seats next year,” said an EC official.
When contacted, BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan said, “Selection of candidates for elections is done by the central election committee of the party. The committee will take decision on this matter.”
“In the current situation, either another MLC is expected to resign to accommodate the fifth minister or he would be asked to resign from the Cabinet and make way for another leader, who would also get six months to seek membership of either House,” said a senior BJP leader.
“Most likely, another member of the legislative council will resign to create the vacancy,” he added.