UP bypoll fallout: BJP withdraws two candidates for Rajya Sabha elections

File photo of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath | (Photo: PTI)
As a fallout of the humiliating defeat in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday withdrew two candidates in fray for the Rajya Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier, BJP had fielded 11 candidates for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats, although going by its numbers in Vidhan Sabha, it could elect only 8. However, the party had placed its bet on the split in the opposition votes to see at least one of its additional candidates sail through, while the remaining two were fielded by BJP to put pressure on the two Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidates. Now with the poll defeat, BJP decided to withdraw two candidates to avoid further embarrassment.

Now, there are 11 candidates in fray for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats, which would witness voting on March 23. On the last day of withdrawing nomination, two BJP candidates viz. Vidyasagar Sonkar and Salil Bisnoi withdrew their candidature leaving 9 party nominees.

In effect, the Rajya Sabha poll leaves the possibility of horse trading and defections. These elections are held through open ballots and members violating the party whip could be disqualified.

Since BSP had extended support to SP in the parliamentary bypoll, the SP is expected to return the favour by voting for the BSP candidate Bhim Rao Ambedkar with the additional votes in its kitty. It takes 37 votes to elect a Rajya Sabha member in UP. BSP with barely 19 members was not in a position to elect its member to the Upper House without taking outside support. SP has fielded Bollywood actor-turned-politician Jaya Bachchan for Rajya Sabha while ignoring several party seniors.

Yesterday, SP president Akhilesh Yadav had held a close door meeting with party MLAs to chalk out the strategy for Rajya Sabha poll and the support to the BSP candidate. The meeting was attended, according to sources, by 40 of the total 47 SP legislators. However, Nitin Agarwal, the son of Naresh Agarwal who had recently joined BJP, apart from Shivpal Singh Yadav had kept away.

The 9 BJP candidates in the fray now include union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Ashok Vajpayee, Sakaldeep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Anil Jain, G V L Narsimha Rao, Harnath Singh Yadav and Anil Agarwal.

BJP can win 8 seats comfortably on the back of the support of total 324 legislators, including allies. SP can also win a seat, but for the 10th seat, the votes of more than one party would be needed for a candidate to win.

Since the BJP has fielded an additional candidate, cross voting from SP or BSP could disturb the poll math of BSP to see its candidate sail through. Nitin Agarwal and some other legislators are most likely to cross vote.

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