Following a resounding victory in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the BJP has set its eye on becoming the single-largest party in the state Legislative Council as well by winning a majority of the 36 Upper House seats going to polls on Saturday.
The 36 seats are spread across 35 local authorities' constituencies. The biennial poll was earlier planned on two dates but now it will be conducted together on April 9. Counting will take place on April 12. It is an opportunity for the saffron party to enjoy a majority in both the Houses of the Uttar Pradesh Legislature.
In the 100-member Legislative Council, the BJP has 34 MLCs, the Samajwadi Party 17 and the Bahujan Samaj Party four. The Congress, Apna Dal (Sonelal) and NISHAD party have one member each in the House. The Teachers' group has 2 MLCs, while the Independent group ('Nirdal Samooh') and Independents have 1 MLC each.
As many as 37 seats are vacant at present. Addressing BJP workers a week ago, Chief Minister Adityanath said it was important for the party to win the 36 seats to advance his government's growth agenda without any hurdle.
"Of these 36 seats, the BJP has won nine unopposed. If the party wins all the 36 seats, you can assume that it will have a two-third majority in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council and have no problem in taking forward the development schemes expeditiously." Adityanath, an MLA from Gorakhpur Urban, will cast his vote in Gorakhpur on Saturday at the polling booth in the municipal corporation, official sources said.
The voters in this biennial election are village pradhans, members and chairman of block development councils, members and chairman of Zila panchayat, and corporators in urban areas. MLAs and MPs are also voters in this poll.
The Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party have not fielded any candidate in the legislative council polls, making it a straight fight between the BJP and the Samajwadi Party, the principal opposition in the state Assembly.
Some independent candidates are also in the fray. Of the 36 BJP candidates, five are former Samajwadi Party leaders, who joined the saffron camp on the eve of the February-March state polls.
They are Shailendra Pratap Singh from Sultanpur local authority constituency, C P Chand from the Gorakhpur-Maharajganj local authorities, Ravishankar Singh 'Pappu', the grandson of former prime minister Chandrasekhar, from Ballia local authorities, Rama Niranjan from Jhansi-Jalaun-Lalitpur local authorities and Narendra Bhati from Bulandshahr local authorities. The Samajwadi Party has declared its candidates for 34 seats, leaving the Meerut-Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr seats for its ally the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Prominent among those who have been fielded are Dr Kafeel Khan from Deoria, Mashkoor Ahmad from Rampur-Bareilly, sitting MLCs Sunil Kumar Sajan, Rajesh Kumar and Udayveer Singh from Lucknow-Unnao, Barabanki, and Mathura-Etah-Mainpuri seats respectively. Adityanath has recently quit the Legislative Council seat after getting elected as an MLA from Gorakhpur Urban seat. With the death of Leader of the Opposition in the Council Ahmad Hasan on February 19 after a prolonged illness, the Samajwadi Party has named Sanjay Lathar to the post. In the recently-concluded Assembly elections, the BJP has won 255 seats, while its allies Apna Dal (Sonelal) and NISHAD party have won 12 and six seats respectively.
The Samajwadi Party has won 111 seats while its ally the Rashtriya Lok Dal has won eight. SBSP, another ally of the Samajwadi Party, has won six seats. The Congress has won two seats, while the BSP has won one seat.
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