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Polling for RS, LC starts in UP

Written by: Staff
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Lucknow, Mar 28: Polling started here today (Mar 28, 2006) for the crucial biennial elections to 10 Rajya Sabha and 13 state Legislative Council seats in Uttar Pradesh amid tight security arrangements.

Chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and leader of the opposition Lalji Tandon were among the prominent members of the state assembly to exercise their franchise in the opening hours.

The polling started at 0900 hrs and will continue till 1500 hrs.

Counting of votes would be taken up after 1700 hrs.

Meanwhile, some confusion prevailed in the polling hall with the opposition candidates accussing the ruling Samajwadi Party for mismanagement.

Independent candidate for the RS Sudhanshu Mittal said he would complain about it to the Election Commission and demand countermand of the polls.

Amid apprehension of cross voting, intimidation of voters and even use of money and muscle power by the political parties to garner support for their candidates, prominent political parties -- SP, BSP, the BJP, Rashtriya Lok Dal, theCongress along with independents and smaller parties -- had taken all possible steps to keep their folks united.

All eyes are, however, set on 37 rebel BSP MLAs who had been recognised as a seperate group in the state assembly by the Supreme Court, recently and the 16 independent legislators who hold the key to the electoral fate of 13 candidates in contention for 10 seats of RS and 14 candidates for the 13 LC seats in UP.

These MLAs have given sleepless nights to the ruling SP as the BSP was all out to woo them. Five of them had already announced to switch over to their original party.

Returning officer and state principal secretary (assembly) R P Pandey said the polling was underway on a peaceful note.

Mr Pandey said although whip of political parties would not be effective for the elctions, all the voters have to show their ballot papers to the political parties' agents before casting vote. The ballots of those, who do not follow this rule, would be rejected.

''Votes of all the MLAs will be valid if they show their ballot papers to the agent, even if they vote against party whip.'' EC has appointed three observers -- UP Chief Electoral Officer Anuj Kumar Vishnoi, PWD principal secretary S K Agarwal and LDA vice-chairman B B Singh -- to oversee polling and counting process.

With a strength of 67 members in the UP assembly, BSP can only get through two candidates, but banking on the support of 37 rebel MLAs, it had fielded a third candidate. On the other hand, the SP poll managers are a worried lot as they are anything but fully assured about the loyalty of rebels. The independents are likely to extend support to independent candidate Sudhanshu Mittal -- an industrialist -- as their RS candidate, the prospects of all the five SP and one RLD candidate making it to RS would be a doubtful proposition.

In case of LC, nomination of Independent candidate Pradip Singh was rejected for not complying with Articles 3 and 36 of the Representation of People of India (RPI) Act. With this, 14 candidates are left in the fray for 13 seats.

Janeshwar Mishra, Banwari Lal Kanchal, Veerpal Singh, Virendra Bhatia, Mahendra Mohan Gupta (all SP), Maulana Mahmood Madni (RLD) Kalraj Mishra, Vinay Katiyar (both BJP), Sudhanshu Mittal (independent), Balihari, Satish Chandra, Moon Kadh (BSP) and Azad Kumar Kardam (Congress) are in the fray for the RS.

Candidates for the LC seats were Naresh Chandra Uttam, Khawaja Halim, Kashinath, Rakesh Singh Rana, Ramsharan Das, Dayaram Prajapati (all SP), Harpal Singh Saini (RLD), Ramapati Ram Tripathi, Ashok Dhawan, Ramnaresh Rawat (all BJP), Babu Singh Kushawaha, Jugal Kishore, Sunil Kumar (all BSP) and Matiur Rahman (Congress).

As per assembly strength, the SP and its allies have 235 members (SP 195, RLD 15, CPI(M) 2, Loktantrik Congress 2, Akhil Bharatiya Congress 1, Unattached 5 and Independents 16, while the BJP has 83, BSP 67 and Congress 16 members each.

The SP added another voter in its group after winning the Kauriram assembly byelection yesterday.

A candidate has to get 37 first preference votes for winning the RS election.

Similarly, out of the 13 Council seats at stake, the ruling alliance stands to win eight seats, while the BJP and the BSP can wrest two seats each. For winning the council seat, a candidate has to secure 29 first preference votes.

The 10 RS members, who would be retiring on April 2 are Janeshwar Mishra and Sakshi Maharaj, who was expelled for cash-on camera scam (both SP), Kalraj Mishra, Ramnath Kovid, Balbir Kumar Punj and Ram Baksh Singh Verma (all BJP), Ghanysham Chandra Kharwar and Dara Singh Chauhan (both BSP), Rajiv Shukla (Akhil Bharatiya Loktrantrik Congress and M M Agarwal (Independent).

However, retiring RS members, Janeshwar Mishra and Kalraj Mishra have been re-nominated by their respective parties.

The 10 RS seats will fall vacant on April 2, while the term for the LC seats expires on May 5.

UNI

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