The delay in the resignations of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya from the Lok Sabha has generated intense speculation about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s strategy in the state amid talks that the Opposition is planning to unite for the imminent by-elections to the two parliamentary seats the two leaders are expected to vacate.
According to the rules, Adityanath and Maurya are required to get themselves elected to either the Legislative Assembly or Council in Uttar Pradesh within six months of their taking charge in the state. The deadline for this is September 19.
The two leaders were expected to resign from their Lok Sabha seats – Adityanath from Gorakhpur and Maurya from Phulpur – immediately after voting for the vice-presidential election on August 5. However, according to highly placed insiders in the BJP, the party leadership has asked them to wait for a final decision on the issue.
Wait and watch?
On August 5, hours after news reports indicated that Adityanath had submitted his resignation from the Lok Sabha after voting in the vice-presidential election, Uttar Pradesh’s Principal Secretary (Information) Avinash Kumar Awasthi contradicted the reports, asserting that the chief minister had not resigned from the Lower House of Parliament.
The confusion deepened further that day when deputy chief minister Maurya expressed confidence that the BJP would win the by-election in the Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency but shied away from committing as to when he would vacate the seat.
Adityanath and Maurya were sworn in on March 19 after the BJP’s stunning victory in the Assembly election in India’s most populous state.
With the September 19 deadline drawing closer, there is speculation whether talks between the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party to contest the imminent by-elections had anything to do with the delay in Adityanath and Maurya’s resignations from Parliament. Though neither Opposition party has said anything officially, they appear to be favorably disposed to give a joint fight in the two Lok Sabha seats once the BJP leaders vacate them.
There is talk that while Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who resigned from the Rajya Sabha on July 20, might contest from Phulpur, the Samajwadi Party might put up a candidate – with the backing of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress – from Gorakhpur.
There is also talk that the Opposition might field joint candidates against Adityanath and Maurya in case they decide to contest Assembly elections instead of entering the legislature via the legislative council, which will not require elections.
Though the Lok Sabha by-elections, whenever they happen, may hardly have any bearing on the composition of the Lower House, which is dominated by the BJP, they might lay the foundation for an Opposition alliance in Uttar Pradesh before the 2019 general elections. It is believed that such a move would help both the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party augment their respective support bases and make a lasting political impact in Hindi belt.