Opposition unity is unlikely in Uttar Pradesh for the byelections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, which were necessitated following Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacating their seats. 

According to sources, though the Congress and Samajwadi Party are continuing with their alliance stitched during the Assembly elections, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has refused to join it. The BJP is hopeful that it would be able to retain the two seats comfortably.

Both CM Adityanath and Maurya have resigned from the Lok Sabha and become members in the UP Legislative Counil. The Election Commission is likely to announce the schedule for the byelections soon.

According to sources, SP is trying to field Indrajeet Saroj, a BSP rebel for the Phulpur seat. Saroj, a former minister and four time MLA, was expelled last month after he accused Mayawati of extorting money from the BSP leaders. However, he is reportedly not keen on contesting because of short tenure in the Lok Sabha.

There is speculation that Mayawati may contest the byelections, but BSP leaders are tight-lipped on the issue. A BSP source said: “The party normally does not contest byelections. Moreover, Mayawati may not like to take a risk at this point of time,” he said. “However, a section within the party wants Mayawati to go for byelections. This will rejuvenate the party cadre. At present the cadre is demoralised,” said the source.

For the BJP, it’s a matter of prestige to retain the two seats. The party has already moved into election mode and has mobilised its cadre in the two constituencies. Though no decision has been taken regarding the candidates, CM Adityanath and Maurya have been paying visits to these areas regularly.

Though the SP and the Congress are keen for a “grand alliance”, Mayawati has so far not agreed to it. She maintained a distance from the anti-BJP rally organised by the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Patna last month, which was attended by Akhilesh Yadav. Mayawati’s term in the Rajya Sabha was due to end next April, but she resigned on 18 July after Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien refused to allow her to make an impromptu speech on the issue of violence against Dalits in Saharanpur (Uttar Pradesh). Sources said it will be impossible for her to be elected to RS on her own.

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