BSP President Mayawati has assured all sitting MLAs of the party of renomination in next year’s elections. The assurance comes at a time when least three of the BSP’s 80 MLAs appear set to move on to other parties.
Each of the three has a relative in either the SP or the BJP, all recently joined. Mahavir Rana, MLA from Behat, was suspended from the BSP for “anti-party activities”; his brother Jagdish Rana joined the BJP Monday. Bala Prasad Awasthi, MLA from Mohammadi, is set to be replaced with Daud Ahmad, party sources said; this is after Awasthi’s son has joined the BJP. And Chhotelal Verma, MLA from Fatehabad, has stopped going to party functions and attending meetings called by Mayawati; his son has joined the SP. Verma said he could not say at this moment if he too would join the SP. “There are still eight months to go for the elections. I will see how the public reacts then,” he said.
BSP sources said the party has finalised replacements for all three MLAs. As for the rest, Mayawati is wary about possible anti-incumbency against a few. She has decided to move these MLAs from one constituency to another, keeping them as close to their original seats as possible, sources said.
The MLA from Barhapur in Bijnor district, Mohd Ghazi, is being shifted to Dhampur. Rajnarain Budhauliya from Mahoba has been shifted to neighbouring Charkhari. Leader of the Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya has been replaced with a new candidate in Padrauna of Kushinagar district. Maurya is likely to be fielded from Unchahar in Rae Bareli, but this move has not yet been finalised, sources said. The BSP has also replaced the sitting MLA from Paniyara in Maharajganj district with former Legislative Council chairperson Ganesh Shanker Pandey.
Given that she denied tickets to nearly one-fourth of her sitting MLAs in 2012 and nearly half her sitting MPs in 2014, Mayawati’s assurance of tickets for sitting MLAs during her meeting with them in Delhi Friday seems an attempt to prevent defections. One MLA said only those not active in their constituencies are afraid of losing their tickets. “Still, she has given an assurance.”