After exactly a decade, there is smile on the lips of Uttar Pradesh legislators, cutting across party lines. Phone lines are buzzing furiously and private parties are taking place in far flung resorts to escape the media eye.
The Rajya Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh will no longer be held unopposed this time and political parties are worried about horse trading and cross voting. The elections will also reveal the chinks in the armour of all political parties.
If sources are to be believed, the Samajwadi Party, despite having an effective strength of 228 members, needs 10 extra votes to ensure the elections of its seven members to the Upper House.
The SP has fielded Beni Prasad Varma, Amar Singh, Sanjay Seth, Sukhram Yadav, Reoti Raman Singh, Vishambhar Nishad and Surendra Nagar for the Upper House.
Expelled SP MLA Rampal Yadav claims that there are over a dozen disgruntled MLAs in the ruling party who are in no mood to vote for the party candidates.
According to a source, these MLAs are those who do not wish to contest the 2017 Assembly elections on the Samajwadi ticket and are angling for a foothold in the BJP.
“There is no better way to prove our loyalty to the BJP than by voting against the SP. Our vote will undoubtedly go to Preeti Mahapatra, the Independent candidate who is supported by the BJP,” admitted an SP MLA.
Preeti Mahapatra, a businesswoman from Mumbai, said that she had done her homework very well before coming to Uttar Pradesh. “I am confident of winning my seat and I am grateful to those who are supporting me, including the BJP,” she said.
The BJP, which has 41 MLAs in the state Assembly, is left with only seven surplus votes for Preeti Mahapatra after allotting the mandatory 34 votes to its official candidate Shiv Pratap Shukla. Mahapatra will need 27 additional votes to win her seat and these will obviously come from the other parties
The SP MLAs, meanwhile, are upset with the choice of candidates for the Rajya Sabha. Tickets to Beni Prasad Varma (who spent seven years in the Congress abusing the Samajwadi leadership) and Sanjay Seth, a local builder who has never been a member of the Samajwadi Party, have apparently caused a great deal of heartburn.
“If the party chooses to ignore loyal party workers and opts for outsiders, why should we toe the line?” asked a senior SP MLA.
The Congress is also on a weak footing in the Rajya Sabha elections. The party has 29 MLAs and it needs five more votes to ensure the victory of its candidate, Kapil Sibal.
The problem with the Congress in UP is that the party does not have a floor manager who can ensure additional votes for its candidates. Besides that, the possibility of some Congress members playing truant at the last minute cannot be ruled out.
“A Congress ticket is not a ticket to victory in the upcoming Assembly elections. The scenario would have been different if the party had fielded a local leader. Sibal does not even know the legislators and has never interacted with them. Why should you expect the MLAs to vote for him because, in any case, he is not going to return to Lucknow? “ asked a former Congress MLA.
The BSP, which has 12 surplus votes to offer, however is keeping its cards close to its chest and the party could prove to be the game changer in the Rajya Sabha elections at the last moment.