The BJP with its strong numbers in the state legislatures is likely to sweep the forthcoming Rajya Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where it is tipped to get 10 out of 11 seats.
Ten seats from Uttar Pradesh and one from Uttarakhand will witness the contest on November 9.
The one name that is certain to be renominated is Union Minister of Urban Development (Independent Charge) Hardeep Singh Puri. Following Manohar Parrikar's resignation, who quit as the Defence Minister after becoming the Goa Chief Minister, Puri was elected unopposed in a bypoll to a Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh in 2018. His term comes to an end this November 25.
Another leader, who is very likely to be renominated and whose term is also coming to an end, is BJP leader Arun Singh. The BJP leader, who was a General Secretary in Team Amit Shah has been retained even in the new team. "Singh has proven to be quite useful as far as his organisational duties are concerned. Given the sustained faith the leadership has shown in him, it is highly unlikely that he will be denied a renomination," said a BJP functionary, working in Delhi.
Another name that is nearly certain to get a nomination is Neeraj Shekhar. Shekhar, son of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, quit his Rajya Sabha and left the Samajwadi Party (SP) to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in July last year.
His joining had a stamp of BJP's top echelons as soon after his induction, he got to meet Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah, something that is reserved for select inductees. The BJP will field him for the bypoll to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. With his term also coming to an end this November, his renomination is almost certain.
Meanwhile, another name which is doing the rounds in Uttar Pradesh who may be given a Rajya Sabha candidature is former state chief of BJP's Uttar Pradesh unit -- Laxmi Kant Bajpai.
BJP sources credit him for the 'hard work' he had put in the 2017 Assembly poll in the state. The four time MLA from Meerut may have played a key role in the BJP's thumping victory in the state, but he lost from the Meerut city seat. Those who have worked closely with Amit Shah in the 2014 General Election in Uttar Pradesh that fetched 71 out of 80 seats also acknowledge Bajpai's "contribution". Moreover, his upper caste background may work in favour of the BJP's caste calculus in a state where the Congress has floated organizations to tap that particular vote bank.
There are speculations that Ram Madhav, who was recently dropped as the party's national general secretary, may get the Upper House candidature so that he can be accommodated in the next cabinet reshuffle. However, no BJP functionary has either confirmed or denied this.
The biennial elections to 11 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand on November 9 are set to change the political dynamics as the BJP is set to gain more seats. The party is inching towards a majority in the Upper House of Parliament along with allies and supporting parties.
The Rajya Sabha members due to retire on November 25 are Chandrapal Singh Yadav, Javed Ali, Ravi Prakash Verma, Ram Gopal Yadav (all from Samajwadi Party), Veer Singh and Rajaram (Bahujan Samaj Party), Raj Babbar and PL Punia (both from Congress), and Neeraj Shekhar, Hardeep Singh Puri, and Arun Singh (all from BJP). Only Raj Babbar was elected from Uttarakhand whereas the rest represented Uttar Pradesh in the Upper House.
As per the current configurations in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the Samajwadi Party (SP) can win only one seat. The SP will ensure that Ram Gopal Yadav wins that seat.
One possibility in Uttar Pradesh is of the opposition contesting one more seat, depending on the surplus votes available. However, as the opposition is not united, a joint opposition candidate is not likely to be fielded from the state. Hence, in the given scenario, the BJP is set to win the remaining nine seats from Uttar Pradesh. The lone seat from Uttarakhand is set to go into the BJP kitty too.
(Anindya Banerjee can be contacted at Anindya.email@example.com)
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