Given that BSP support helped the SP defeat the BJP in bypolls to Lok Sabha constituencies held by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Maurya, the SP is under pressure to ensure the BSP candidate’s win in the Rajya Sabha elections on Friday. With one MLA each — Hari Om Yadav (SP) and Mukhtar Ansari (BSP) — in jail, and Naresh Agrawal’s son Nitin Agrawal (SP MLA) set to vote for the BJP, the SP-BSP numbers appeared on thin edge for the purpose.
Given the thin margin, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is learnt to have requested party senior and Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav to be in Lucknow on the voting day to act as election agent, ensuring suitable apportioning of first preference and second preference votes to ensure that both SP-BSP candidates win. Ram Gopal’s understanding of electoral laws and procedures helped Akhilesh get the bicycle symbol during the factional feud in the party last year. Though Independent Raja Bhaiya and his supporter MLA have stepped forward to vote for SP candidates, there was no certainty whether they would cast their second preference votes for the BSP candidate.
New Year Reminder
To welcome the Hindu New Year, an RSS shakha meeting was held at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence on Thursday. Around 150 MPs, including ministers, assembled at the lawn inside his residential premises early morning. Besides flag salute and other rituals, RSS sah-sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale gave a speech on founding president Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. He said Hedgewar, who had started as a Congress worker during the freedom struggle, decided to form the RSS after realising that the Congress party could get India freedom but would not be able to sustain the Indianness of the country. He wanted the country to have an organisation of nationalists, Hosabale reminded the BJP leaders. The MPs were treated with a simple breakfast of south Indian dishes and puri-sabzi.
Feeling The Pulse
With her cheerleaders in the power corridors of Delhi projecting her as a potential prime ministerial contender in 2019 as the leader of the third front, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee will be in the national capital to get a first-hand pulse of behind-the-curtain moves for political realignment. Banerjee, who skipped an Opposition leaders’ dinner hosted by Sonia Gandhi and sent her representative, is likely to arrive in the capital on March 26 and stay for three days. During this time she is expected to meet Opposition leaders. While Banerjee is known to schedule her Delhi visits when Parliament is in session, she and her party would like to believe that this time is special, given the noise over realignment of regional parties since the TDP quit the NDA.