The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rajnath, Amar in RS race

New Delhi, Nov. 6: A cautious BJP in Uttar Pradesh today officially announced former chief minister Rajnath Singh and former central minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as its candidates for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha biennial elections scheduled for November 18.

Going by the numbers — the BJP has 88 MLAs in the House — it can hope to win three seats. But a section of rebels are planning to put up their own candidate much to the discomfiture of the saffron party.

The Samajwadi Party has announced names of four candidates, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) three and the Congress one. The Congress has nominated Akhilesh Das, but is yet to make an official announcement.

The BJP is fielding Jharkhand minister Pradeep Yadav for the Lok Sabha byelection from Godda which fell vacant after Babulal Marandi, who was appointed chief minister of the newly formed state, resigned.

Plagued by rebellion, the BJP is cautious about fielding one more candidate from the state. Asked whether the party would field any more nominees — especially former BJP spokesman Sunil Shastri whose term expires this month — party spokesman Arun Jaitley said: “Whatever further announcements are to be made by the central party would be decided after consulting the state unit.”

He said the one byelection to the Rajya Sabha following the resignation of T.N. Chaturvedi, who has been appointed Governor of Karnataka, would be decided later. Shastri is likely to get the nomination for this vacancy and a year and a quarter is left for the term.

The Samajwadi has fielded sitting member Amar Singh, whose term will lapse later this month, former MP Uday Pratap Singh, its Maharashtra unit president Abu Asim Azmi and Urdu journalist Shahid Siddiqui.

The BSP’s candidates are Gandhi Azad, Isham Singh and Bir Singh. They also filed their papers today. Samajwadi nominees who filed their papers were accompanied by party president Mulayam, Rashtriya Kranti Party chief Kalyan Singh and leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Azam Khan.

The party, which has a strength of 142 in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh House, can ensure victory for at least three of its candidates as each needs 37 votes to get through.

Requiring 148 votes for all the four candidates to win, the Samajwadi could manage the remaining from its allies. One of them, the RKP, has four members in the House.

In Lucknow, BJP state unit president Vinay Katiyar told the media that the party would face no difficulty in ensuring victory for its nominees.

He said the grievances of some unhappy party leaders were being looked into by the state and central leadership, and ruled out chances of their going against the party nominees in the elections.

Asked about the announcement made by dissident leaders that they might field their own nominee to prove that they enjoyed the support of a chunk of party MLAs, Katiyar said he was not aware of any such move. He alleged that the Samajwadi Party was encouraging dissident activity in the BJP “to keep its flock together”.

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