Stage is set for election to 11 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh and 13 seats for Legislative Council with two extra candidates remaining in the fray after the deadline for withdrawal of nominations ended Friday. With 12 and 14 candidates in fray for RS and Legislative Council seats, respectively, fear of cross-voting looms large over each political party.
Returning Officer and Principal Secretary (Assembly) Pradeep Kumar Dubey said none of the 12 candidates for RS and 14 for the Legislative Council withdrew their papers.
The contest for Rajya Sabha became interesting after a social worker, Preeti Mahapatra, filed her papers as an independent candidate at the last moment. Several BJP MLAs and members of smaller parties besides some Independents have signed Preeti’s two sets of nominations making chances of cross-voting a possibility.
Congress has accused her of being a BJP candidate who could encourage horse-trading as her entry might queer the pitch of former Union minister and noted lawyer Kapil Sibal, who needs five extra votes for victory.
The bigger task for Congress, however, is to stop any likely defection by its three to four MLAs. Sources informed that Sibal and party president Sonia Gandhi’s representative K L Sharma is likely to personally camp in Lucknow over next few days. For Legislative Council, party has fielded Gandhi family loyalist from Amethi, Deepak Singh.
The party is expecting help from BSP that had recently backed Congress in the Uttarakhand Assembly floor test to defeat “communal forces”.
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Congress has 29 MLAs and each candidate needs 34 votes for Rajya Sabha win. Also it can elect its lone candidate to Legislative Council. However, Congress fears that some of its MLAs are already in touch with Samajwadi Party and the BJP as during a voting for MLC elections in 2015, in which Congress had not fielded any candidate, some of its votes had evidently shifted towards other parties, whose candidates got more votes than the number of their MLAs.
Mayawati is yet to clarify which way her 12 surplus BSP lawmakers will go as after getting both its nominees elected.
Ruling Samajwadi Party has fielded seven candidates for the RS, but the seventh candidate of the party is short of nine first-preference votes for victory. In the 403-member Assembly, ruling SP has 229 MLAs, BSP 80, BJP 41 and Congress 29. Despite being an open election, anti-defection law does not apply here. Therefore, even if an MLA violates party whip, he or she would not lose membership of the House.
RS candidates in the fray are Amar Singh, Beni Prasad Verma, Kuwar Rewati Raman Singh, Vishambhar Prasad Nishad, Sukhram Singh Yadav, Sanjay Seth and Surendra Nagar (all SP), Satish Chandra Mishra and Ashok Sidharth (both BSP), Kapil Sibal (Congress), Shiv Pratap Shukla (BJP) and Preeti Mahapatra (Independent).
Candidates vying for the Council seats are Yashwant Singh, Bukkal Nawab, Ram Sunder Das Nishad, Balram Yadav, Jagjivan Prasad, Shatrughan Prakash, Kamlesh Pathak and Ranvijay Singh (all SP), Atar Singh Rao, Dinesh Chandra and Suresh Kashyap (BSP), Bhupendra Choudhury and Dayashanker Singh (both BJP) and Deepak Singh (Congress).