UP Rajya Sabha polls: In defeat, Opposition unity emerges winner 

The BJP has gained little beyond the obvious in the UP Rajya Sabha polls. Its plans to derail Opposition unity has not worked.

Photo by Dheeraj Dhawan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Dheeraj Dhawan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Biswajeet Banerjee

The Bahujan Samaj Party’s candidate, Bhim Rao Ambedkar, lost a cliffhanger in the just concluded Rajya sabha election in Uttar Pradesh where Opposition unity was put to test in the face of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) money power and wily political machinations. In this battle of attrition, Opposition unity has emerged as victorious.

This is the second time in last fortnight that Opposition parties comprising Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and RLD put up a decent fight giving sleepless nights to BJP poll managers. What stands out in this battle of ballot is that Samajwadi Party, Congress and RLD were able to transfer their votes to BSP’s Bhim Rao Ambedkar. What the Opposition promised to Mayawati was fulfilled in letter and in spirit.

This is the reason why the BJP’s Anil Agarwal got 22 votes while the BSP’s Bhim Rao Ambedkar got 34 as first preferential votes. The BSP lost this election in second preferential vote as BJP and its allies, comprising 324 members, had numbers in their favour and second preference votes for BJP candidate came in a flood.

The Opposition suffered a setback as the High Court did not allow two incarcerated legislators – Mukhtar Ansari and Hariome Yadav – to vote. Nitin Agarwal (SP) and Anil Singh (BSP) cross voted in favour of the BJP candidate. It is also believed that Vinod Saroj, one of the lieutenants of independent Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, voted for the BJP because it got 328 votes against the expected 323.

The five extra votes BJP got are: Nitin Agrawal (SP), Anil Singh (BSP), Aman Mani Tripathi (Independent), Vijay Sharma, (Nishad Party) and the fifth could be Saroj.  Nitin Agrawal, Aman Mani and Vijay Mishra had declared earlier that they will vote for the BJP. Anil Singh’s switch over came as a surprise.

Singh, a legislator from Purwa in Unnao District, was finding himself unfit in the political system. Twice in the Vidhan Sabha, he had told Speaker Hridaya Narain Dixit that he was not able to cope up with his job. “Hum to phas gaye,” he had said.

Being a businessman, it is believed that in this Rajya Sabha election he found a way-out after striking a deal.

But in this defeat, lies a silver lining for Opposition parties. Now four bye-elections will be held in UP. One will be for Lok Sabha (Kairana) and three will be for the Assembly seats of Nurpur, Hardoi and Purwa. Last two elections will take place following cross voting in Rajya Sabha election as Nitin Agarwal and Anil Singh are bound to lose their membership of the Vidhan Sabha while in Nurpur, the sitting BJP MLA died in a road accident.

This unity will again be put to test and could be rehearsal before 2019 general election.

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Published: 24 Mar 2018, 3:19 PM