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Voting in Rajya Sabha polls underway, SP MLA resigns as chief whip

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LUCKNOW, Feb 27: Polling was underway in the elections for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday amid fears of cross-voting in the opposition Samajwadi Party camp, underscored by party MLA Manoj Kumar Pandey resigning as its chief whip in the Assembly.

This comes a day after eight MLAs, including Pandey, skipped a meeting called by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav at his residence here to brief party legislators about the voting process.

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Speaking to reporters before casting his vote at the Assembly’s Tilak Hall earlier in the day, Yadav said those who were looking for a “profit” in this situation would leave.

The BJP will adopt any means necessary to win elections, he alleged, adding, “Those who put spikes in someone else’s path or dig holes for others will pay the price themselves.”

“You have seen what happened in Chandigarh in front of CCTV cameras. I thank the Supreme Court, which saved the Constitution. The BJP can adopt all tricks to win elections. It must have given assurance (to some MLAs) of some profit… BJP will do anything to win,” Yadav said.

Besides the SP president, Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath, Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak and Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna were among the prominent faces who arrived at the Assembly to cast their votes.

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Talking to reporters, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya claimed that Yadav made a mistake by fielding his third candidate and he does not the numbers.

“SP has become ‘Samaptwadi Party’ and all the eight candidates of the BJP will win,” he added.

Pathak too asserted that all BJP candidates were going to win.

SP MLAs Rakesh Pratap Singh, Abhay Singh and Rakesh Pandey, who were among the eight to skip Yadav’s Monday night meeting, arrived in the same vehicle.

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“We will cast our votes as per our inner voices,” Rakesh Pratap Singh said. Asked if ‘Jai Sri Ram’ will prevail, he replied, “Ram is everywhere…”

The ruling BJP and the principal opposition SP have the numbers in the Assembly to send seven and three members respectively unopposed to the Rajya Sabha, but with the BJP fielding its eighth candidate, a keen contest is on the cards in one of the seats.

The BJP and the SP are the two largest parties in the 403-member House with 252 MLAs and 108 MLAs respectively. The Congress, an alliance partner of the SP, has two seats.

BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has 13 seats, the NISHAD Party has six seats, RLD has nine seats, SBSP six, Jansatta Dal Loktantrik two and the BSP has one seat. Four seats are currently vacant.

The candidates fielded by the BJP are former Union minister RPN Singh, former MP Chaudhary Tejveer Singh, general secretary of the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit Amarpal Maurya, former state minister Sangeeta Balwant (Bind), party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, former MLA Sadhna Singh, former Agra mayor Naveen Jain and industrialist Sanjay Seth.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded actor-MP Jaya Bachchan, retired IAS officer Alok Ranjan and Dalit leader Ramji Lal Suman.

Seth, a former SP leader, joined the BJP in 2019. Any cross-voting by SP legislators could get Seth elected.

To get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, a candidate needs nearly 37 first-preference votes.

Polling started at 9 am and will continue till 4 pm. Counting will commence from 5 pm and results are likely to be announced by the night. (PTI)

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