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Amit Shah outsmarts Mayawati in key Rajya Sabha battle, BJP wins 9 of 10 in UP

On a day of swift manoeuvres, the BJP outsmarted Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati to win nine of the 10 Rajya Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, while the Samajwadi Party won one.

It was a case of sweet revenge for the BJP as independent candidate Anil Agarwal, backed by the saffron party, defeated Mayawati’s nominee Bhimrao Ambedkar amid cross voting by both SP and BSP legislators and a dramatic two-hour delay in counting after the Opposition parties complained about cross voting to the EC.

The BSP had helped the SP win two of the saffron party’s safest Lok Sabha seats in last week’s bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, was the most prominent among the nine BJP nominees to be elected from Uttar Pradesh. The SP’s Jaya Bachchan also made it to the Upper House.

Over all, it was a day of big gains for the BJP in the RS elections as it won 12 of the 25 seats for which voting took place on Friday. The Congress won five.

On March 15, 33 candidates from 10 states were declared elected unopposed, of whom 16 were BJP MPs. Out of the 58 Rajya Sabha seats that will fall vacant this April, the BJP has managed to bag 28, the Congress has got 10 and 20 seats have been won by other parties.

Before the elections on Friday, the BJP was the largest party in the House with 58 MPs followed by the Congress with 54 MPs.

In April, the tenure of BJP’s 17 MPs lapses. With these results, its tally in Rajya Sabha rises to 69.

Congratulating the victorious party MPs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Congratu-lations to all those elected to the Rajya Sabha from various states and best wishes for their parliamentary career. I hope they effectively voice the aspirations of the states they will represent.”

Earlier, counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh was delayed by over two hours following complaints filed by SP and BSP and two votes being declared invalid by the EC -— one each of the BJP and BSP.

Uttar Pradesh parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Khanna, who was present during counting, said that the votes were declared invalid due to overwriting.

The victorious BJP candidates in Uttar Pradesh included G.V.L. Narsimha Rao, Anil Jain, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Kanta Kardam, Harnath Singh Yadav and Ashok Bajpai.

Samajwadi Party’s candidate Ms Bachchan won another term to the Rajya Sabha with 38 votes, one more than the required 37 votes.

A tough contest was seen between the BJP-backed Independent candidate Mr Agarwal, who got 22 first preference votes, and BSP candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar, who got 33 first preference votes. The BSP candidate was backed by the SP and the Congress.

However, the BJP candidate won after counting of second preference votes as the BSP candidate did not get second preference votes from the SP. The BSP and SP faced cross-voting by two of their legislators.

An MLA of ally Nishad Party also went with the BJP, while two jailed legislators — BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari and SP MLA Hariom Yadav — were not allowed by the courts to cast their votes. Taking the total loss of the SP-BSP alliance to five votes.

BSP MLA Anil Singh voted for the BJP and said, “I have voted for the BJP. I do not know about the rest”. Mr Singh, late on Thursday night, was seen heading for the chief minister’s residence for a dinner meeting which made it clear that he would not vote for his party’s official candidate.

SP MLA Nitin Agarwal, son of former SP leader Naresh Agarwal, also voted for the BJP.

Independent MLA Aman Mani Tripathi said that he had “followed the guidelines of Maharaj ji” (Yogi Adityanath) and voted for the BJP.

Two MLAs of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, a BJP ally, are reported to have cross-voted in favour of the BSP. The other ally of the BJP — Apna Dal which has nine MLAs — claimed to have voted in favour of the BJP.

Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya left everyone guessing on Friday.

He tweeted that he had not changed and neither had his ideology. “I am with Akhileshji but this does not mean that I am with BSP. I will vote for SP candidate (Jaya Bachchan).”

Shortly after Raja Bhaiyya’s tweet, Akhilesh Yadav tweeted, “Thank you for supporting Samajwadi Party” with his photograph with Raja Bhaiyya who, ironically, is seen wearing a saffron kurta.

Raja Bhaiyya was one of the last legislators to cast his vote and immediately after casting his vote, he proceeded to meet chief minister Mr Adityanath that sent rumor mills spinning.

Raja Bhaiyya is known for his anti-BSP stand after he and his father Uday Pratap Singh were booked under POTA in 2003 by the then chief minister Mayawati who accused them of plotting to topple her government. He is said to be upset over the SP-BSP alliance.

BSP MLAs arrived together to cast their votes, as did the seven Congress MLAs. From the Samajwadi Party, Shivpal Yadav was the first to cast his vote.  A total of 400 legislators cast their votes on Friday.

Voting ended around 3 pm, an hour earlier than scheduled. But there were dramatic scenes before the counting as Opposition parties approached the EC over cross-voting.

The EC asked for security camera footage after the SP and the BSP alleged that the lawmakers had not displayed their ballots to party agents, as is the rule after voting.

“We complained to the EC that our MLA Anil Singh did not show his vote to the election agent of the party before casting it,” said Uma Shankar Singh, deputy leader of the BSP in the state Assembly.

The SP lodged a similar complaint against MLA Nitin Agarwal, who had switched sides after his father quit the party and joined the BJP recently.

There were 11 candidates for 10 Rajya Sabha seats and 37 first preference votes were needed for each seat. The BJP had 324 MLAs to ensure a win on eight seats comfortably. The Samajwadi Party had 47 lawmakers, enough to win one seat while the BSP had 19 lawmakers of which one is in jail and one has cross voted. So, with an effective strength of 17, the BSP needed 20 extra votes which it failed to manage.

In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamul Congress won four seats. All four TMC candidates — sitting Rajya Sabha member Nadimul Haque and first-time nominees Subhasish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Santanu Sen — made it to the Upper House comfortably.

Congress’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi won the fifth Rajya Sabha seat from the state. He called his victory “humbling and uplifting” and the result of “cooperation between different groups and MLAs”.

In Assembly poll-bound Karnataka, three seats were won by the Congress and one by the BJP. Congress’ Dr L. Hanumanthaiah, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain and G.C. Chandrasekhar and ’s Rajeev Chandrashekar bagged the seats in the state.

BJP’s Saroj Pandey won the lone seat in Chhattisgarh by beating Congress’s Lekhram Sahu. In Jharkhand, the Congress and the BJP won one seat each.

In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi(TRS) won all the three seats. TRS candidates B. Prakash, B. Lingaiah Yadav and J. Santosh Kumar were declared elected.

In Kerala, M.P. Veerendra Kumar, the state president of the Janata Dal (U) Sharad Yadav faction, retained his seat in Kerala bypoll. He had vacated the seat in December 2017 to protest against JD(U) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar joining hands with BJP-led NDA.


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