Arun Jaitley likely to get Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh

The BJP is all set to be the biggest gainer in elections for Rajya Sabha membership. It will win eight out of 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh while the Samajwadi Party would get only one. The party may field Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely from Uttar Pradesh instead of Gujarat for another Rajya Sabha term.

Opposition unity would be put to test for the tenth seat as neither the BSP nor the Congress have adequate numbers to sail though without the support from other parties. This may pave the way for horse-trading, not uncommon in the state during Rajya Sabha elections, when polling is held on March 23.

Elections for 10 Rajya Sabha members from Uttar Pradesh, retiring in April, will be held on March 23. With 311 members (325 with allies) in UP Assembly, BJP and allies will be a clear winner on eight seats, seven more than the last time. A candidate will require a minimum of 37 votes to win.

The Samajwadi Party, which had managed to send six party leaders to Rajya Sabha, including Jaya Bachchan, Kironmoy Nanda, Naresh Agrawal, will face tough task ahead in deciding the name of the candidate as it could send only one party leader to the Upper House with 47 members.

On the other hand, BSP Supremo Mayawati has no chance to become a Rajya Sabha member again after her resignation last year or send any other leader to the Upper House till it seeks support from the Congress and Samajwadi Party. The BSP has only 19 members in the Legislative Assembly and it requires 37.6 votes to enable its candidate win.

Similarly, the Congress will also find it impossible to send senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari, who is also retiring in April, to the Upper House without seeking support from Samajwadi Party and the BSP. With only seven members in UP Assembly, Congress stands no chance to manage a seat without support.

Though the Samajwadi Party and the Congress fought 2017 Assembly polls together but both the parties fell apart after results. Recently, Akhilesh Yadav had called for opposition unity for by-polls on two Lok Sabha seats to take on the BJP but the Congress put up its candidates to decline the offer and BSP showed no inclination to Yadav’s offer.

Rajya Sabha polls for the tenth seat would, however, give yet another opportunity to the SP, BSP and the Congress to unite for putting up a joint candidate to win. For, they will have 10, 19 and seven votes respectively to enable a joint opposition candidate to win.

Otherwise the tenth seat will see second preferential voting which will give an edge to the BJP to wrest or will pave the way for horse-trading for any candidate throwing in money-bags. Chances are that the BJP with surplus votes may field the ninth candidate also to make room for horse-trading and to cash on opposition disunity, if SP, BSP and Congress failed to come to any understanding.

Hectic lobbying has begun in all political parties, including the ruling BJP, soon after announcement of Rajya Sabha polls on ten seats in Uttar Pradesh on Friday. The party is likely to send Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely from UP instead of repeating him again from Gujarat. It would be interesting to watch if BJP repeats fire-brand Bajrang Dal President Vinay Katiyar, who often makes party leadership uncomfortable with his provocative anti-minority statements.

Similarly, Akhiesh Yadav will face a challenge in selecting lone candidate of his Samajwadi Party for Rajya Sabha berth between Jaya Bachchan, Kironmoy Nanda, Naresh Agarwal and three others. “The party may not repeat any of these naes and may pick up a young face for Rajya Sabha,” confided a senior party leader.

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