In the upcoming by-elections for two seats of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has chosen to challenge the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), despite facing an unfavorable numerical advantage. The voting by members of the UP assembly to elect the council members is scheduled for Monday. These seats became vacant following the unfortunate passing of BJP member Banwari Lal and the elevation of Laxman Acharya to the post of Governor.
SP's symbolic protest
While the BJP holds a considerable majority in the UP assembly, making it seemingly smooth sailing for its council candidate, the SP has decided to contest these elections as a symbolic protest. The BJP, along with its allies, boasts 273 members in the assembly, whereas the SP has 105 members. Additionally, nine members of the Rashtriya Lok Dal have pledged their votes to the SP candidates in the council. The ruling BJP has 255 of its own MLAs, along with 12 from its ally Apna Dal, while 8 members from the Nishad Party are expected to vote for the BJP candidate. The BJP might also receive support from six MLAs of the Suheldeo Rajbhar Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP).
The BJP has nominated former council chairman Manvendra Singh and Padamsen Choudhury as its candidates, while the SP has put forward Ramkaran Nirmal and Ram Jatan Rajbhar. Sensing a probable defeat, the SP candidates have issued an appeal to BJP legislators, urging them to vote based on their inner conscience. The SP leaders anticipate cross-voting from backward and Dalit MLAs within the ruling BJP. However, to prevent any such scenario, the BJP has called for a meeting of its MLAs on Sunday, disguising it as a mock drill for polling. During the meeting, BJP MLAs were instructed to vote in favor of the party candidates, and a quota of MLAs has been allocated to both candidates.
Commenting on the situation, UP BJP leaders acknowledged the possibility of cross-voting within the Samajwadi Party, highlighting the discontent of a few MLAs with party Chief Akhilesh Yadav. Furthermore, they mentioned that a lone member from the Bahujan Samaj Party and two members from the Congress might abstain from polling.