Akhilesh planning a return gift for Mayawati

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Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk:The SP-BSP alliance unleashed a double jolt on the seemingly invincible BJP in the Uttar Pradesh byelections as the saffron party failed to retain Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, earlier held by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Keshav Prasad Maurya respectively.

Elated SP-BSP supporters in Lucknow raised slogans of ‘Bua-Bhatija Zindabad’ after the emphatic victory of the alliance of the two arch-rival parties over the BJP.

The bitter memories of the 1995 Lucknow Guest House episode were put to rest, at least for now by the BSP supremo, who extended her support for Akhilesh Yadav in the bypolls. After the results were announced, the SP president on late Wednesday evening went to meet the BSP chief to say thanks for her support.

Sources said Mayawati initially apprised Akhilesh how she had urged the Dalit and Muslim communities of Gorakhpur and Phulpur to vote for SP without even visiting the two constituencies.

Akhilesh informed the BSP chief about the efforts SP workers had put at the ground level for the bypolls.

According to sources, the two leaders did not discuss the much-anticipated alliance of SP-BSP for 2019 general elections. However, Mayawati and Akhilesh did talk about the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections and the possibilities of sending party candidates to the Upper House.

10 seats of Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh will go to polls on March 23. The ruling BJP, which has an overwhelming majority in the Assembly, has spoiled the equation of SP and BSP by announcing candidates for nine seats.

In order to ensure a straight win in the Rajya Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh, a candidate has to get 37 votes. The BJP has 324 MLAs in the state assembly and is assured of at least eight seats. The saffron party will have 28 surplus votes and hope to gain from dissension in rival parties to get his ninth candidate into the Upper House from UP.

The BSP has 19 MLAs in the 403-member Assembly and is short of 18 first preference votes. The SP, which has 47 MLAs in the House, can transfer 10 surplus votes to the BSP taking the number of first preference votes for the BSP candidate to 29. Now, the seven votes of the Congress and one of RLD can help the BSP candidate reach the magic figure of 37 votes.

Former SP leader Naresh Aggarwal, who defected to BJP, has already announced that the vote of his son Nitin Agarwal will go to BJP.

Both SP and BSP fear cross-voting in Rajya Sabha elections, the next major challenge for the two parties. Akhilesh will have to formulate a strategy that his uncle Shivpal Yadav, who was locked in a bitter power battle with him, and his loyal MLAs don’t opt for cross-voting.

The major challenge for Akhilesh would be to ensure that the BSP candidate, Bhimrao Ambedkar, gets 37 MLA votes that would guarantee him a Rajya Sabha seat, in a return gift to Bua from Bhatija’s side.

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