LOK SABHA BY­ELEC­TION RE­SULTS TO­DAY

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

AL­LA­HABAD/GORAKHPUR: The Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-elec­tion re­sults, to be de­clared on Wed­nes­day, will be a test of op­po­si­tion unity, es­pe­cially as the Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party lo­cal units an­nounced their sup­port for the Sa­ma­jwadi Party can­di­dates in the two con­stituen­cies where vot­ing was held on March 11.

The pres­tige of chief min­is­ter Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief min­is­ter Keshav Prasad Mau­rya will be at stake. The by-elec­tions were ne­ces­si­tated af­ter Adityanath va­cated the Gorakhpur seat, which he had won five times since 1998, and Mau­rya re­signed as Phulpur MP af­ter they were elected to the state leg­isla­tive coun­cil (Vid­han Par­ishad) to ful­fil a con­sti­tu­tional re­quire­ment.

For Phulpur, the count­ing of votes will start at Mun­dera Mandi premises from 8am, said Al­la­habad DM and district elec­tion of­fi­cer Suhas LY, adding that the re­sults were ex­pected to be de­clared by 2pm. In Phulpur, the BJP fielded for­mer Varanasi mayor Kaushal­en­dra Singh Pa­tel, the Congress nom­i­nated Man­ish Mishra and the Sa­ma­jwadi Party chose Na­gen­dra Singh Pa­tel. Atiq Ah­mad also threw his hat in the ring as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date.

LUC­KNOW: The fac­tional fight in the Sa­ma­jwadi Party could ben­e­fit the BJP in the Ra­jya Sabha elec­tion. The Shiv­pal Yadav camp was likely to break ranks with the Op­po­si­tion by back­ing the saf­fron party, an SP leader said on Tues­day.

The rul­ing BJP has de­cided to con­test one more than the eight Ra­jya Sabha seats it is cer­tain to win in Ut­tar Pradesh when polling is held on March 23.

“Shiv­pal and his sup­port­ers are likely to go against the wishes of SP pres­i­dent Akhilesh Yadav just the way they did in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. We ex­pect at least seven lead­ers to cross-vote in the BJP’s favour,” the leader, who re­fused to be iden­ti­fied, said.

Shiv­pal, who is Akhilesh’s un­cle, was not avail­able for com­ments.

Though Akhilesh got the bet­ter of his un­cle in the war for con­trol of the SP, Shiv­pal de­fied the party when lead­ers close to him suc­cess­fully sup­ported the BJPled Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance can­di­date Ram­nath Kovind in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion against the Op­po­si­tion’s Meira Ku­mar.

In Ut­tar Pradesh, a Ra­jya Sabha can­di­date needs 37 votes to be elected. The BJP, which has a brute ma­jor­ity in the Vid­han Sabha, is as­sured of eight seats and the SP one.

The Op­po­si­tion, in­clud­ing the SP and the Congress, has an­nounced sup­port for the Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP)’s Bhim­rao Ambed­kar for the 10th seat, which no party can win on its own, but with the BJP en­ter­ing the con­test, Ambed­kar’s fate looks un­cer­tain.

The SP will be left with 10 votes af­ter en­sur­ing a Ra­jya Sabha seat for its can­di­dates. Com­bined with 19 votes of the BSP, seven of the Congress and one of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the to­tal goes to 37.

The resid­ual votes of the BJP and al­lies will be 28. There are two In­de­pen­dent votes. If there is cross-vot­ing in the Op­po­si­tion camp, the BJP could clinch a ninth seat in Ut­tar Pradesh.

The Shiv­pal camp has obliged the BJP on more than one oc­ca­sion.

Prom­i­nent SP lead­ers, in­clud­ing Bukkal Nawab, Yash­want Singh and Saro­jini Agar­wal, all con­sid­ered loyal to Shiv­pal, quit the leg­isla­tive coun­cil, al­low­ing chief min­is­ter Yogi Adityanath, his deputy min­is­ter Keshav Prasad Mau­rya and other min­is­ters to get elected from the Vid­han Par­ishad.

The three for­mer MLCs are now in the BJP.

MLAs Vi­jay Mishra and Aman Mani Tri­pathi, who won the 2017 assem­bly elec­tion af­ter Akhilesh de­nied them tick­ets, too, are con­sid­ered close to Shiv­pal. Aman con­tested as an In­de­pen­dent and Mishra on the Nishad Party ticket.

Though the Nishad Party was an al­liance part­ner of the SP in Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by­poll, it has no con­trol over Mishra, which could work in favour of the BJP.

Along with UP, an­other 49 Ra­jya Sabha seats will be voted for on March 23 across sev­eral states in a cru­cial elec­tion that will push up the BJP’s tally in the Up­per House but not enough to take it past the half-way mark.

With BJP en­ter­ing con­test and Shiv­pal’s camp move un­pre­dictable, fate of BSP can­di­date Ambed­kar (in pic) looks un­cer­tain.

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