Lucknow: The dinner diplomacy is in full swing in state capital Lucknow with rival BJP and SP hosting their respective MLAs to keep their flock intact on the eve of Rajya Sabha polls as voting for 10
seats slated for March 23. However, after recently-concluded Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls, these elections have brought CM Yogi Adityanath and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav face-to-face yet again putting their political acumen and vote management to test.
While the parties –BJP and SP-- are huddled in their respective camps to draw a strategy for March 23, they are in an overdrive to poach on MLAs from rival camps and woo the independents to meet their
respective shortfall to win 10th contentious seat caught in cliff hanger between SP-BSP and BJP.
In swift developments, the Samajwadi Party MLA Rakesh pratap Singh, will host a dinner on Wednesday at a prominent city hotel inviting all SP MLAs, office bearers and stalwarts including party
patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaswantnagar MLA Shivpal Yadav. The event is being seen in the political circles as a bid ensure sanity among MLAs to tow party line to ensure defeat of an extra BJP candidate pitched against BSP candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar supported by SP, Congress and RLD. However, the SP chief scoffed it off as a mere celebration to mark victory of the party candidates in Gorakhpur and Phulpur. Similarly CM Yogi Adityanath has also invited all the party MLAs, party state chief Mahendra Nath Pandey and organisational secretary Sunil Bansal at his official residence on Wednesday to find ways to block the victory of SP-BSP candidate.
However, for BJP the bigger challenge is to keep the allies in good humour to win their support in the crucial battle especially when ally SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar has opened a front against the
bigger partner. Moreover, the saffron party has to muster nine more votes to ensure smooth sailing of its ninth candidate defeating SP-BSP’ Ambedkar. However, on Tuesday, BJP chief Amit Shah met Rajbhar Delhi and succeeded in pacifying the Dalit leader for now.
Similarly, winds of uncertainty were blowing in SP camp also especially in the wake of Naresh Agarwal switching sides. SP is finding itself on a sticky wicket as its MLA Nitin Agarwal (Naresh’s son) may
derail plans to ensure Ambedkar’s win.
As per the sources, BSP national general secretary Satish Chand Mishra met the Election Commission in Delhi on Tuesday to ask the state government for allowing two imprisoned MLAs Mukhtar Ansari of the BSP and Hari Om Yadav of the SP to cast their votes on March 23.
For the BJP, this election is most crucial as it would not only serves as the balm to mend bypoll wounds but will also ground the soaring spirits of opposition to some extent after they fell Gorakhpur
The BJP led NDA has total strength of 325 MLAs with BJP alone 311 and the SBSP four and Apna Dal 11. The party has fielded nine candidate .Eight of candidates will win easily and will have 28 votes spare for the ninth candidate Anil Agarwal and need nine more.
The SP, with 47 MLAs, has fielded Jaya Bachchan. With 37 MLAs out of 47, her win is ensured. Party with its nine spare votes (with Nitin Agarwal voting for BJP) would back BSP’s Ambedkar. The Congress has already announced support of the seven MLAs and so has the RLD with lone MLA. With this SP- BSP alliance has a support of 36 MLAs and if it is able to manage two independents including Raghuraj Pratap Singh, it can stun the ruling party yet again.