Atiq Khan

BSP meet on Tuesday may finalise candidates

SP has 96 MLAs and is likely to win two seats

LUCKNOW: The countdown for the biennial polls to the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh began on Monday, with the Election Commission of India issuing a notification. The polls will be held on November 25.

The State’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party is set to win the highest number of seats considering that it has 200-plus MLAs in the Assembly. As 36-37 first preference votes are required for a candidate to be declared winner, the ruling party is likely to win five seats.

Chief Minister and BSP president Mayawati convened a meeting of the party MLAs for Tuesday to finalise the strategy for the elections. The names of the candidates are expected to be finalised at the meeting.

The Samajwadi Party has 96 MLAs and is likely to win two seats, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, with 51 members, is likely to win one seat.

Actual contest

The actual contest will be for the 10th seat, where the Congress, with 21 MLAs, and the Rashtriya Lok Dal, with 10 MLAs, could play a crucial role. Though both the parties are not in a position to win a single seat on their own, they will have to throw their weight behind like-minded parties, other than the BSP and the BJP. Under the present political situation in the State, the Congress cannot align with the BSP and may have to tie up with the SP, notwithstanding the fact that no headway has been made in the seat-sharing talks between the two parties for the Lok Sabha elections.

Those whose six-year term in the Rajya Sabha expires on November 25, 2008 are: BJP president Rajnath Singh; BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi; Samajwadi Party national general secretary Amar Singh; Shahid Siddiqui, who has joined the BSP; Abu Aasim Azmi (SP); Uday Pratap Singh (SP); Isam Singh, Gandhi Azad and Vir Singh (all BSP); and the former Union Minister, Akhilesh Chandra Das, who was elected on the Congress ticket in 2002. Dr. Das, who now calls himself Akhilesh Das Gupta, joined the BSP in May this year and has been declared the party’s candidate from Lucknow for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP president is unlikely to contest the Rajya Sabha polls as he is likely to be fielded from Ghaziabad in next year’s Lok Sabha elections. Among the BJP’s Rajya Sabha hopefuls, whose names are doing the rounds are: the former Leader of the Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Lalji Tandon, the former State unit president, Kesari Nath Tripathi, and vice-president of State BJP Surya Pratap Shahi.

Mr. Siddiqui, who was elected on the SP ticket in 2002, has been declared the BSP candidate from Bijnor for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Renominated

SP sources said Mr. Amar Singh and Mr. Azmi were likely to be renominated.