Lucknow: Stage is set for contest in 11 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh and 13 seats for Legislative Council with two extra candidates remaining in the fray as deadline for withdrawal of nominations ended on Friday, prompting major parties to work overtime to keep their flock together.
Returning Officer and Principal Secretary (Assembly) Pradeep Kumar Dubey said none of the 12 candidates for Rajya Sabha and 14 candidates for the Legislative Council withdrew their papers.
The contest for Rajya Sabha became interesting after Independent candidate Preeti Mahapatra, a social worker, filed her papers at the last moment as the 12th candidate for the 11 seats going to polls next week, thereby forcing voting.
Several BJP MLAs and members of smaller parties besides some Independents have signed Preeti's two sets of nominations making chances of cross-voting a possibility.
Congress has accused her of being a BJP candidate who could encourage horse-trading as her entry might queer the pitch of former Union minister and noted lawyer Kapil Sibal, who needs five extra votes for victory. Congress has 29 MLAs and each candidate needs 34 votes for Rajya Sabha win.
Sibal is expecting help from BSP that had recently backed Congress in the Uttarakhand Assembly floor test to defeat "communal forces".
Mayawati is yet to clarify which way her 12 surplus BSP lawmakers will go as after getting both its nominees elected.
Ruling Samajwadi Party has fielded seven candidates for the RS, but the seventh candidate of the party is short of nine first-preference votes for victory.
In the 403-member Assembly, ruling SP has 229 MLAs, BSP 80, BJP 41 and Congress 29.
The rest belong to small parties or are Independents who hold the key. In this scenario, Rashtriya Lok Dal with eight MLAs has gained sudden importance.
Despite being an open election, anti-defection law does not apply here. Therefore, even if an MLA violates party whip, he or she would not lose membership of the House.