In elections marred by cross-voting, the BJP on Friday spoiled the Opposition’s arithmetic by ensuring victory of all its nine candidates in Uttar Pradesh. While BJP’s eight candidates were scheduled to win in view of its numbers in Assembly, its ninth nominee, Anil Kumar Agarwal, pulled off a surprise win over BSP’s Bhimrao Ambedkar with the help of second preference votes. The remaining seat went to SP’s Jaya Bachchan.
The BJP’s win comes days after it lost the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls to the SP — supported by the BSP.
Taking a dig at the SP-BSP bonhomie, CM Yogi Adityanath said: “Is election mein Samajwadi Party ka avsarwadi chehra pradesh ko dikha. Samajwadi Party le sakti hai, de nahi sakti (SP’s opportunistic face has come to the fore in these polls… it can take but not give).”
Besides Agarwal, others who made it to the Upper House from BJP are Arun Jaitley, Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, Harnath Singh Yadav and G V L Narasimha Rao.
Besides congratulating PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, Adityanath thanked Independent MLAs and the one “who voted in favour of the BJP by listening to his inner voice” — referring to BSP MLA Anil Singh.
BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra said SP did its best to support Ambedkar. “BJP misused power and money to defeat our candidate… Anti-Dalit BJP ensured defeat of a Dalit candidate.”
Earlier in the day, SP’s Nitin Agrawal and BSP’s Anil Singh voted for the BJP. Counting was delayed as SP and BSP moved Election Commission (EC), alleging that Anil and Agrawal did not show their votes to the agent of the party before casting. Counting started after EC rejected the objection after going through video footage.
While Anil Singh claimed that he listened to “inner voice” and went with “Maharaj ji” (Adityanath), Agarwal, whose father Naresh Agarwal recently joined BJP, said: “SP chose a candidate who entertains over one who works for society…” He was referring to his father, whose Rajya Sabha term ends on April 2, and SP nominee Jaya Bachchan.
Lone Nishad party MLA Vijay Mishra said he voted for BJP. “Desh ki akhandata…desh ke gareeboon ko dhyan me rakhte hue vote diya,” he said after voting. In the recent bypolls, Nishad Party had supported SP in Gorakhpur.
Challenges for the BSP candidate increased as BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari and SP’s Hari Om Yadav — both in jail — were not allowed to vote by courts. Also, Independent MLA Amanmani Tripathi and Nishad party MLA Vijay Mishra voted for BJP. Tripathi, who belongs to Gorakhpur, said he voted where “Maharaj” asked him to.
Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh ‘Raja Bhaiyya’, who was seen at the SP dinner Wednesday, tweeted while voting was in progress that his support for Akhilesh does not mean he will support BSP. Soon after casting vote, Raja Bhaiyya went to meet Adityanath in Vidhan Sabha. “I discussed issues pertaining to my constituency,” he said.
Late at night, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said the victory would increase BJP’s strength in Rajya Sabha and help in getting important laws passed. He added that to ensure “Congress mukt Bharat”, BJP will now focus on Karnataka.