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Mayawati to Back SP’s Strongest ‘Anti-BJP Candidate’ in UP Bypolls, Get Support for Rajya Sabha in Return

BSP chief Mayawati stated that the support will be limited to the bypolls only and there would be no alliance with the Samajwadi Pary beyond that.

Pranshu Mishra, Qazi Faraz Ahmad

Updated:March 4, 2018, 4:53 PM IST
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Mayawati to Back SP’s Strongest ‘Anti-BJP Candidate’ in UP Bypolls, Get Support for Rajya Sabha in Return
File photos of BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav.
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Lucknow: The Bahujan Samaj Party has announced its decision to extend its support to the Samajwadi Party candidates in the Phulpur and Gorakhpur byelections, hours after News18 first reported about the possibility of an alliance between the long-term rivals.

The move is aimed at gaining back grounds lost to the BJP after the 2017 Assembly elections.

BSP chief Mayawati stated that the support will be limited to the bypolls only. “I want to clarify that BSP has not allied with any political party. All rumors about BSP and SP alliance in UP for 2019 Lok Sabha elections are false and baseless,” she said.

She said the understanding between the two parties would only extend to ensuring victory for the strongest non-BJP candidate, and hence, the BSP has not floated any candidate for bypolls in Phulpur & Gorakhpur. “We have spoken to SP and have decided that we will support their Lok Sabha candidate during voting and SP will support our Rajya Sabha candidate,” she added.

Declaring the party's intent to "eliminate the BJP", Allahabad regional coordinator of the BSP Ashok Gautam and Gorakhpur zonal coordinator of the party, Ghanshyam Chadra Kharwar, said that the BSP would back SP's Nagendra Singh Patel in Phulpur and Praveen Kumar Nishad in Gorakhpur.

BSP leaders, though, would not be sharing the stage with their SP counterparts and have said that they would mobilise their cadre separately to drum up the votes. Sources in the BSP told News18 that the decision was taken after a marathon meeting at Mayawati’s residence on Thursday.

Clarifying her stand on Rajya Sabha elections, the BSP Supremo said, “Right now we don’t have sufficient numbers for Rajya Sabha but if the Samajwadi Party will support us then we are also going to support their candidate in the MLC elections. On Congress, I want to be clear that if Congress wants our vote in Madhya Pradesh for Rajya Sabha elections, then they will have to vote for our candidate in Uttar Pradesh.”

The BSP supremo had walked out and resigned from the Upper House of Parliament accusing the BJP and the Chair of not allowing her to raise the issue of anti-Dalit violence in Uttar Pradesh.

A look at the number reveals that an SP-BSP-Congress alliance can send two candidates to the Rajya Sabha from UP.

BSP has 19 seats, SP has 47 and Congress six. After the SP ensures that one of its candidates makes it to the Upper House, the party will be left with a surplus of 13-14 votes, which adding to BSP’s could make sure of Mayawati’s Parliamentary re-entry.

The move marks a fresh attempt to form an anti-BJP alliance in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

This is also a break from tradition for the BSP, which has never contested bypolls when in opposition. However, its absence in the recent Madhya Pradesh Assembly bypolls seems to have benefitted the BJP, with the Congress’ victory margin going down. Mayawati’s announcement of support to the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP may prevent a division of its vote bank.

However, the Congress, which allied with the SP for Assembly elections last year, has announced its own candidates on the two seats.

In Gorakhpur — a seat represented by Yogi Adityanath for five consecutive terms — the Samajwadi Party has fielded Praveen Kumar Nishad, the son of Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad, as its candidate. Nishad will take on the BJP’s Upendra Shukla and Congress leader Surhita Chatterjee Karim.

In Phulphur, the Samajwadi Party has fielded Nagendra Singh Patel, an OBC leader. Patel will contest against BJP candidate and fellow OBC leader Kaushlendra Singh Patel, who has also been Varanasi mayor. The Congress has fielded Manish Mishra for this seat.

Voting for both bypolls will be held on March 11, while counting of votes will be held on March 14.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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