Will BJP challenge united Opposition in UP MLC election?

The BJP does not have the numbers to stop the Opposition from winning two MLC seats. Worse, it is not on the same page with its allies and there is trouble brewing within its own ranks

Photo by Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Biswajeet Banerjee

After the contest in the Rajya Sabha biennial election where the united Opposition in Uttar Pradesh lost a cliffhanger, the state is all set to witness another round of political battle for 13 seats of the State Legislative Council. The question is whether Bhartiya Janata Party will bite the bullet and challenge Opposition unity yet again.

The term of 13 members, including that of former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and two ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government, will end on May 5 and the Election Commission is slated to schedule the election by next week.

A candidate would require around 29 votes to get elected in the first round of counting. Going by the count and strength of respective parties in the Vidhan Sabha, BJP can win 11 seats. SP can win one and the joint Opposition the other.

The BJP-led NDA, which has 324 MLAs, can easily win 11 out of the 13 seats and will have five spare votes. With BSP’s Anil Singh and SP’s Nitin Agarwal defecting to its side, BJP’s tally goes up to seven. If Vijay Mishra of Nishaad Party votes for BJP, then this number will go up to eight, a far cry from the required 29 votes.

On the other hand, SP with 46 MLAs (after the defection of Nitin Agarwal), can easily get at least one member elected and will have 17 votes to spare. With support of BSP which has 18 MLAs (after defection of Anil Singh) and seven of the Congress, the second opposition candidate should sail through easily.

The Opposition is already gearing up for this battle of ballot as senior BSP leader Satish Mishra has declared that Opposition unity will trample the communal BJP and its allies in the Vidhan Parishad election.

The big question is whether the BJP and its allies want to go for election. The question is raised because unlike Rajya Sabha election, the Vidhan Parishad election is through secret ballot and it is not mandatory for the members to show their ballots to the party coordinator before casting vote.

The BJP is already on the sticky wicket. There are reports of two of the members of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party cross-voting during the Rajya Sabha election. The party is already flexing muscles as it is organising an anti-government rally on March 27. In this scenario, it is not entirely impossible for SBSP MLAs to vote against the BJP.

Trouble is brewing even within the BJP’s ranks as some of the members like Mayenkeshwar Saran Singh are ready to unfurl the banner of revolt against the government. In this scenario, it would be interesting to see whether the BJP goes for elections.

The council members who are retiring on May 5 are Akhilesh Yadav, Ambika Choudhury, Umar Ali Khan, Naresh Chandra Uttam, Dr Madhu Gupta, Rajendra Choudhury, Ramsakal Gujjar, D Vijay Yadav (all from SP), UP ministers Dr Mahendra  Kumar Singh and Mohsin Raza (both from BJP), Sunil Kumar Chittor and Dr Vijay Pratap (both from BSP) and  Choudhury Mustaq (from RLD).

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Published: 26 Mar 2018, 12:23 PM