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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Maharashtra: BJP plays north Indian card by fielding Sanjay Upadhyay for Rajya Sabha bypoll

The bypolls were necessitated following the death of Congress MP Rajiv Satav in May. The Congress has fielded senior leader Rajni Patil as its candidate.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: September 22, 2021 3:33:17 pm
Sanjay Upadhyay said, "I am grateful to the party leaders for considering my candidature for the Rajya Sabha polls." (Twitter/Sanjay Upadhyay)

The BJP’s decision to field Sanjay Upadhyay, hailing from Basti in Uttar Pradesh, for the Rajya Sabha bypolls in Maharashtra is seen as a strategy to woo north Indian voters ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and UP assembly elections in 2022.

The bypolls were necessitated following the death of Congress MP Rajiv Satav in May. The Congress has fielded senior leader Rajni Patil as its candidate.

Upadhyay is the BJP Mumbai general secretary. A loyal worker, he has always retained a low profile, preferring to work in the background. Upadhyay said, “I am grateful to the party leaders for considering my candidature for the Rajya Sabha polls.”

Although the selection of Upadhyay came as a surprise to many in the organisation, insiders indicate it was a tactical move to convey a larger message both within Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh. At the core was the north Indian vote bank, they say.

The BMC elections are scheduled for February 2022 and Uttar Pradesh assembly elections for February-March 2022.

The BJPs decision to contest Rajya Sabha bypolls has invited criticism from political rival Congress. The senior Congress Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said, “In Maharashtra, whenever a sitting MP passed away, generally political parties refrained from contesting. Instead, we ensured the polls were held without a contest. It was a goodwill gesture. Unfortunately, BJP is going ahead with its own politics.”

Citing an example of the past Thorat said, “In 2006, when BJP leader Pramod Mahajan died, Congress and NCP took a decision not to field a candidate against BJP for bypolls.”

A senior vice president in state BJP said, “Had the Congress fielded someone from Rajiv Satav’s family, we would have withdrawn from the contest. But Congress has fielded Rajni Patil who is a former MP.” However, it is not going to be easy for BJPas Rajani Patil has the support of NCP and Shiv Sena.

The 288 members in the state legislative assembly form the electoral college for Rajya Sabha polls. The BJP with 105 seats is the single-largest party. Congress (44,) NCP (54) and Shiv Sena (56) together add up to 154 seats. Smaller parties and independents together constitute 29 members.

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