Cross-voting and a dramatic two-hour delay were what one witnessed in the Uttar Pradesh assembly that voted in the Rajya Sabha elections on Friday. The final result was BJP, nine, SP, one and BSP, none.
The bonhomie between the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party which began during the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections continued in the Rajya Sabha polls but was not good enough. The BSP had helped the SP bag both the seats in the by-polls. The SP returned the favour by polling its surplus votes in favour of the BSP, but the BJP's Anil Agarwal managed to go through to the Upper House.
The contest was a tough one between Agarwal and the BSP's Bhimrao Ambedkar who got 33 first preference votes. Ambedkar was backed by both the SP and Congress.
Agarwal, however, won after the counting of second preference votes as the BSP candidate did not get second preference votes from the Samajwadi Party. Both the BSP and SP faced cross-voting by two of its MLAs.
An MLA of the Nishad Party voted for the BJP. The two jailed BSP legislators, BSP MLA, Mukhtar Ansari and the SP's Hariom Yadav were not allowed to vote by the court. This took the total loss of the SP-BSP alliance to five votes.
The BSP's Anil Singh said he voted for the BJP. He, however, said after casting his vote that he did not know what the rest had done. He was seen heading to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence the night before the voting and had sent out an early signal that he would not be voting for his party's official candidate.
SP MLA, Nitin Agarwal who is the son of former SP leader, Naresh Agarwal too voted for the BJP. The BJP also bagged the vote of independent MLA, Aman Mani Tripathi. After voting, he said he had followed the guidelines of Maharaj ji (Yogi).
Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh also known as Raja Bhaiyya tweeted, "I am with Akhileshji, but this does not mean that I am with the BSP. I will for SP candidate (Jaya Bachchan). Akhilesh Yadav responded by thanking him. However, Raja Bhaiyya who was the last to cast his vote met with Yogi Adityanath which set off rumours.
On Friday, a total of 400 legislators cast their vote. Voting ended at 3 pm, an hour ahead of schedule, but there were dramatic scenes later on. The opposition parties approached the Election Commission complaining of cross-voting. Both the SP and BSP alleged that the lawmakers had not displayed their ballots to the party agents, as is the rule after voting.
At the end of it, the BJP with 324 MLAs managed to easily elect 8 of its candidates who needed 37 preference votes. The Samajwadi Party with 47 comfortably sent is lone candidate to the Rajya Sabha. The BSP has 19 MLAs. However, with one in jail and another cross-voting, its strength was down to 17. It needed an additional 20 votes to elect its candidate but could not manage it.