LUCKNOW: With two days left for voting for the biennial Rajya Sabha polls from Uttar Pradesh, the BJP may heave a sigh of relief after successfully mollifying one of its allies in the state whose four votes could be crucial for the ruling party.
While the BJP has the numbers to send its eight candidates to the upper house, its ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), which has four MLAs in the 403-member UP Assembly, holds key to the success of its ninth nominee.
The BJP and its allies have 324 seats in the Assembly after the death of its Noorpur MLA in a road accident recently. To secure a win in this Rajya Sabha election, a candidate needs 37 first preference votes. Thus, arithmetically, the BJP can easily win eight of the 10 seats and will be left with 28 surplus votes, with the SBSP now deciding to go with the BJP.
"There can be some contest on the ninth seat," a senior UP BJP leader said.
The SP and the BSP appeared confident to win one each of the remaining two of the 10 seats. The SP has fielded Jaya Bachchan and the BSP Bhimrao Ambedkar. The polls are scheduled for March 23.
The SBSP, which had skipped the first-year anniversary bash of the Yogi Adityanath government on March 19, yesterday announced that its MLAs would support BJP candidates after its leader met the saffron party's chief Amit Shah in New Delhi.
"I have met BJP president Amit Shah, who noted the points raised by me and assured me he will visit Lucknow on April 10 and sit with me, the BJP state president and the UP chief minister to resolve the problems. We have decided to vote for the BJP in Rajya Sabha elections," SBSP president and UP cabinet minister Om Prakash Rajbhar said.
Rajbhar had sent shock-waves in the ruling dispensation as he made public his displeasure with the senior alliance partner by skipping the celebrations held on the completion of one year of the Yogi Adityanath dispensation. "We have made this government and it is our duty to repeatedly point out shortcomings... Holding celebrations is not going to serve the purpose. Building temples in Mathura and Kashi will not give education to the poor, toilets and pension to them," Rajbhar had said.
"We are in an alliance, but the alliance dharma is not being upheld by the BJP. In one year, their role has not been good for us," he had rued.
Giving the saffron party anxious moments, the SBSP had also threatened that its four MLAs would boycott the Rajya Sabha elections in case the "big brother" does not redress the party's problems. With 19 MLAs, the BSP is short of 18 first preference votes, and with Naresh Agarwal's son Nitin, who is still an SP MLA, likely to cross-vote for the BJP, the task will become difficult for Mayawati's candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar.
Riding on the new bonhomie with the SP, Mayawati is banking on the 10 surplus votes of Akhilesh Yadav's party, besides seven votes of the Congress and one of RLD to reach the magic figure of 37 votes. However, Nitin Agarwal can queer the BSPs pitch if he votes for the BJP.
Naresh Agarwal, who recently quit the SP and joined the BJP, has said his son would vote for the saffron party in the Rajya Sabha polls.
The country's most populous state sends 31 MPs to the 245-member Rajya Sabha, and the BJP, which won a massive victory in the 2017 Assembly elections, is yet to get a lion's share of these. With 83 members in the Upper House, the NDA is well short of a majority. The BJP has 58 Rajya Sabha MPs.
The BJP candidates in the fray from UP are Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, Harnath Singh Yadav, GVL Narasimha Rao and Anil Kumar Agarwal.