Mayawati extends support to SP with an eye on RS seat

BSP’s support to to SP candidates in upcoming Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha bypolls was extended with an eye on the Rajya Sabha elections; meanwhile the BJP called the “tie-up” an act of desperation

PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla
PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla

Biswajeet Banerjee

Discussions on a possible Samajwadi-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh reached fever pitch over the weekend, after a Hindi daily published a single column news item on Saturday about Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav likely to come together for the upcoming Lok Sabha bypolls. The footprints of this alliance, the news article said, would be visible in the byelections and could also be extended to the 2019 general elections.

On Saturday night, the news was confirmed by a Samajwadi spokesperson and on Sunday, BSP coordinators in Gorakhpur and Allahabad declared that their party cadre will vote for Samajwadi Party candidates in the byelections. But on Sunday evening, BSP supremo Mayawati addressed the media and said BSP would vote for the strongest candidate against the BJP. "BSP has not fielded any candidate from Phulpur and Gorakhpur, but this does not mean that party workers will not cast their votes. They will in fact exercise their voting rights appropriately... As per my earlier directives, the BSP workers will vote for a candidate who will be in a position to defeat the BJP, and there is nothing wrong in it," said Mayawati on Sunday. She also said the SP and BSP could help each other in the upcoming Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections. This lead to some heartburn among Samajwadi cadre, who feel that Mayawati should have been unambiguous about naming SP candidate for support, rather than making it about defeating BJP.

“BSP’s support to SP in byelections is aimed more at winning Rajya Sabha seat for Mayawati than defeating BJP in Gorakhpur and Phulpur,” a senior Samajwadi Party leader said. “She does not seems to be sincere in her appeal. For byelections she has not asked BSP cadre to vote for SP candidate. She cleverly said the BSP cadre should vote for that candidate who is close to defeating BJP. Why has she camouflaged her words?” asked the SP leader.  “Moreover, she also clarified that seat sharing for Rajya Sabha should not be treated as an indication of alliance for 2019,” the SP leader said.

Elections for 10 Rajya Sabha members from Uttar Pradesh, retiring in April, will be held on March 23. With 311 members (325 with allies) in the UP Assembly, the BJP and allies will be a clear winner on eight seats. A candidate will require a minimum of 37 first preference votes to win. The Samajwadi Party can send only one leader to the Upper House with its 47 MLAs in the UP Assembly. For the Congress, with only seven MLAs, it’s impossible to send any candidate to the RS. The BSP too has only 19 members in the assembly. But a combined opposition can ensure victory for the BSP chief, taking SP’s 10 spare votes, BSP’s 19 and Congress’ seven votes.

Meanwhile, BJP cabinet minister Srikant Sharma on Monday said the "tie-up" between the SP and and the BSP for the bypolls was a "deal for personal gains" and an act of desperation as people had discarded both parties.

Bypolls to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats will be held on March 11. While the Gorakhpur seat was vacated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Phulpur seat after the UP assembly elections last year.

With agency inputs.

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