Despite having an effective strength of merely 19 MLAs in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to field its national coordinator Ramji Gautam for the tenth Rajya Sabha seat from the state.
According to party sources, the candidature of Gautam is learnt to have been finalised in a meeting of party MLAs on Thursday.
Sources said Gautam's nomination is likely to be filed on October 26. The election is scheduled for November 10.
According to sources in the party, Gautam's selection is crucial as he belongs to the Dalit community, a vote bank which Mayawati needs to consolidate before the next Assembly elections in the state.
However, the BSP which had won 19 seats in 2017, now has an effective strength of 15. Three BSP MLAs -- Anil Singh, Ramvir Upadhyay and Mohammed Aslam Raini -- have rebelled against the party and are openly supporting the BJP while another legislator, Mukhtar Ansari, is in jail.
A candidate needs 36 votes to win while the BSP has only 15.
Party sources said the BSP game plan was to corner the other opposition parties. The Samajwadi Party will be left with 10 surplus votes after getting its candidate Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav elected and the Congress has an effective strength of five legislators. Two of its MLAs -- Aditi Singh and Rakesh Singh -- have already revolted against the party.
"By fielding a candidate, the party leadership will ask the opposition parties to support our Dalit candidate and if they refuse, their anti-Dalit mentality will stand exposed," said a party functionary.
Meanwhile, Ramji Gautam, was named the national coordinator in June 2019. He worked at a private firm as a chemical engineer before joining the party in 2015. Currently, he runs a business of pesticides and agriculture-related chemicals and belongs to Lakhimpur Kheri district.