Ten Rajya Sabha seats are up for grabs by the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in November and the fierce lobbying and infighting will leave you gasping, giving you a sense of the real equations.
Three of those seats are almost done and dusted. Hardeep Puri, Union Minister of Aviation is likely to come back to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, as are Arun Singh, a BJP leader, and Neeraj Shekhar son of former prime minister, Chandra Shekhar, who defected from the Samajwadi Party to the BJP.
So far so predictable and exactly what Amit Shah, Home Minister, wants. The twist in the tale is the Rajya Sabha seat left vacant by the late Amar Singh. Singh’s term would have ended in August 2022.
And, now comes a connection with the politics of Bengal BJP. Mukul Roy, erstwhile high profile Mamata Banerjee second-in-command, who switched to the BJP from the Trinamool Congress in Bengal. Roy is locked in a big fight with Dilip Ghosh, BJP Bengal chief and MP.
Roy, who played a crucial role in the BJP’s stellar performance in the 2019 elections after defecting to the party in late 2017, has toiled without any political rewards. Sources say he is angry at the neglect by Shah despite the promises made to him and feels let down that he was not even given the tiny reward of a Rajya Sabha nomination.
If the BJP now fobs him with the truncated tenure of the Amar Singh seat, Roy and his supporters will read the writing on the wall just before the crucial West Bengal elections scheduled for April next year.
Roy played a critical role in the growth of the BJP in Bengal, but now feels shortchanged that he got nothing for his efforts. His rivalry with Ghosh is the stuff of legends.
Authoritative sources reveal that Roy is already in touch with the TMC and has had two meetings with Banerjee. Roy has also sent feelers through his son Shubrangshu Roy, who defected to the BJP in 2019. Roy junior calls Banerjee “pishi” (aunt) and she is believed to be fond of him.
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Roy will cross the Rubicon after the announcement of Rajya Sabha seats.
The upcoming battle for Bengal is likely to be the most fiercely contested elections in recent memory with a scrappy Banerjee and a resurgent BJP locked in fierce contest. Sensing that the BJP will do much better than it has in the past, fights have erupted between BJP leaders keen to corner goodies.
Meanwhile, with several outsiders making it to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, expect Yogi Adityanath, chief minister, to push for his own people in the seats that remain.
The significance of the BJP heading towards a majority in the Rajya Sabha is that the upper house along with the lower house Lok Sabha where the BJP enjoys full majority will make it easier to push for Constitutional amendments. The BJP wants to drop the word secular from the Indian Constitution.