SP fields 2 candidates in U.P. MLC polls

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The Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded two veteran leaders as its candidates for the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council election, turning it into a hot contest for the 12th seat.

Twelve seats need to be filled in the Council, but the SP on its own strength — it has 48 MLAs, including Shivpal Yadav, the estranged uncle of party chief Akhilesh Yadav — can secure only one. By nominating a second candidate, it has made it an open game and would need the support of MLAs from other smaller parties and even its rival BSP.

SP nominated candidates Ahmad Hasan and Rajendra Chaudhary were ministers when Mr. Yadav was the Chief Minister from 2012-2017. Mr. Hasan is an outgoing MLC. Mr. Chaudhary, a Jat with a socialist background, is a party spokesperson. Both are often seen shadowing Mr. Yadav and have been close to him as well as his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The BJP has 309 MLAs, and combined with the figure of its ally, the Apna Dal (Sonelal), its tally goes up to 319. It can secure 10 out of the 12 MLC positions, while the SP is set to win one. The BJP could challenge for the 11th if it can muster the support of the BSP MLAs along with rebels in other parties as well as smaller parties.

The 12th seat would be hotly contested, setting the stage for rebellions and changing configurations and alliances as the State heads toward polls in 2022.

The BSP has 18 MLAs on paper but at least half-a-dozen of them have rebelled against it in favour of the SP, bringing down its operative strength. However, all eyes would be on which way the BSP MLAs would swing, as the party on its own cannot win any MLC seat, or if the party would field a candidate and expect support from the BJP, which would have several legislators to spare for the extra seat in case it fields only 10.

Mayawati’s statement

BSP chief Mayawati stated in November that she would ensure the defeat of the SP candidate even if it meant she had to vote for the BJP.

The Congress has seven MLAs, but two of them, including Rae Bareli legislator Sadar Aditi Singh, have rebelled and regularly spoken in support of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party of Om Prakash Rajbhar, which was an ally of the BJP till 2019 but now a staunch opponent, has four MLAs, including Mr. Rajbhar.

Strongman MLA Vijay Mishra, who had contested from Bhadohi on a ticket of the Nishad Party, a BJP ally, is in jail after he was booked under several charges by the government, which he has accused of persecuting him.

Three Independents, including Kunda MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, Aman Mani Tripathi from Maharajganj and Vinod Saroj from Pratapgarh are expected to rally behind the BJP. The lone RLD MLA had joined the BJP before the 2019 general election.

Polling for the MLC election is scheduled on January 28.

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