LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, his two deputies Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma and two other ministerial colleagues have 40 days to go before they must become members of either of the two houses of the state legislature. But there are no signs yet that any of them will face a byelection.
Instead the resignations and subsequent defection to the BJP of four sitting MLCs - three SP and one BSP - have given credence to speculation that Yogi and Co will take the newly vacant seats in the Legislative Council rather than fight byelections to the Assembly.
Adityanath (Gorakhpur) and Maurya (Phulpur) are both members of the Lok Sabha. Dinesh Sharma, ministers of state Swantantra Deo Singh and Mohsin Raza are not members of any house. They all need to be elected - directly or indirectly -- by Sept 18. Since there are five seats vacant in the Council, chances are they will take the less valorous option of gaining entry into it.
Had the chief minister or his colleagues harboured notions of fighting a direct election, there would have been some motion in that direction by now. Adityanath and Maurya were expected to resign their seats in the Lok Sabha after the presidential and vice-presidential elections. They have not done so yet -- despite the false alarm last Saturday that Adityanath did put in his papers after voting for Venkaiah Naidu in the Veep election. They are said to be waiting for the party leadership’s instructions in this regard.
Had the BJP wanted a byelection entry for Adityanath and Maurya - as a signal of its confidence it won so handsomely four months ago - moves ought to have been made by now. First, two sitting party MLAs would have to vacate their seats. Then the Election Commission would have to notify the byelections and a lengthy process gone through thereafter.
“If a bypoll has to take place, the electoral process should roll out now,” said a senior officer in the speaker’s office. However, there is no fixed time period within which a bypoll to a seat fallen vacant should be held. “It can be held within a month or even less than that,” the officer stated.
If he chooses the Council option, Adityanath would not be the first chief minister to do so. Two of predecessors - Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav - also thought the Council the better part of electoral valour.
A direct election at this stage, especially one involving the entire triumvirate of the ruling dispensation, would go down as something of a mini referendum and give an opportunity to the opposition to unite against the saffron might. Plus, a byelection now would give a chance to Mayawati, freshly free of her Rajya Sabha membership, to sneak into the fray and spoil the script.
“We are already strong in the Assembly and we will want to consolidate our position in the Council too,” said a senior BJP leader justifying the possibility of all five ministers going to the Council rather than the Assembly.
The current vacancies in the Council suffice for the BJP’s current purpose: five vacancies for five aspirants. Of the total strength of 100 in the Council, 38 members are elected by MLAs, 36 by local bodies members, eight each by teacher and graduate constituencies while 10 members are nominated by the state government.
Of the five seats currently vacant, four are to be elected by MLAs and one by the graduates constituency. As the BJP is in a majority in the Assembly with 325 seats, it will all be smooth sailing.
UP Legislative Council
Unattached: 1 (Naseemuddin Siddiqui)