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Saturday, December 05, 2020

Rajya Sabha Elections: Day of drama in UP ends with wild card candidate pushed out of race

While about 37 votes of MLAs are required to elect one candidate, the BSP, which has just 18 members in the state Assembly, has fielded its candidate.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow | October 29, 2020 2:29:09 am
BSP MLAs Mujtaba Siddiqui, Aslam Raini and Hakim Lal Bind after meeting Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. (Express Photo)

A day of political drama during which a rebellion by a group of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs suggested the possibility of a surprise in the Rajya Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh, ended after the nomination of a wildcard eleventh candidate in the fray was rejected on technical grounds during scrutiny.

This candidate, one Prakash Bajaj, who filed his nomination as an Independent with the apparent backing of the Samajwadi Party (SP), could potentially have been the beneficiary of the BSP rebels’ vote.

The rejection of his candidature has, however, ensured that there are only 10 candidates for as many vacancies from the state, and there will be no election. The BSP’s official candidate, Ramji Gautam, is assured of a seat despite his party not having the votes to push him over the line in the event of a contest.

Bajaj had filed his nomination at the last moment on Tuesday as the 11th candidate for the 10 seats, raising the prospect of an election. It seemed as though he would get the spare SP votes – however, his nomination was cancelled on Wednesday evening on grounds including a wrong name mentioned by one of his SP proposers.

Earlier in the day, in what looked like a major political setback to the BSP, six of its MLAs said they would not support the candidature of Gautam, the official nominee.

These MLAs met SP president Akhilesh Yadav’s at the SP office in Lucknow, and alleged they had been shown no respect in the BSP despite having served that party for years.

The MLAs said they were not consulted on the candidature of the official BSP nominee, and some of them alleged that their signatures had been forged. Ahead of the scrutiny of nominations, this allegation seemed to put the candidature of Gautam under a cloud.

While about 37 votes of MLAs are required to elect one candidate, the BSP, which has just 18 members in the state Assembly, has fielded its candidate.

Explained

Ripples of drama could linger

Polls for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats in the state are due on November 9. While no polling will now take place, the events of Wednesday are likely to have an impact on the November 3 Assembly bypolls at seven seats and the 2022 Assembly elections in the state.

The move of the BSP was seen by many as having been made in coordination with the BJP, which has fielded just eight candidates for whom the party has clear votes along with its ally Apna Dal. Many believed that the BSP had fielded its candidate only after getting an assurance from the BJP. The SP, with 48 MLAs, has fielded one official candidate.

“We have no respect within the party. I was recently infected with Covid-19. While the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister made arrangements for my treatment, Akhilesh Yadav called me personally to know about my well being. But no one from my party called me up. After I released a video praising the CM, a coordinator went to my constituency to tell people that there would be some other candidate for the upcoming Assembly polls,” said Aslam Raini, one of the BSP rebels, after coming out of the SP office on Wednesday.

“We have also given an affidavit in the Vidhan Sabha that our signatures on the nomination papers of the party candidate have been forged,” Raini said.

Another MLA, Mujtaba Siddiqui, alleged, “We have been shown no respect, and no one consulted us while taking the decision to field the candidate. There are six of us who feel the same. It is mainly the co-ordinators who are misguiding the party, and would lead it to dust. They care for no one. I have given 25 years to the party and have been MLA for three terms. But still, we have no say in the party.”

Besides Raini (Bhinga) and Siddiqui (Pratappur), the BSP MLAs who met Akhilesh after visiting the Vidhan Sabha secretariat were Chaudhary Aslam (Dhaulana), Hakim Lal Bind (Handia), Hargovind Bhargava (Sitapur), and Sushma Patel (Mungra Badshahpur).

The SP and BSP have been arch rivals in UP, but had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in alliance.

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