5 BSP MLAs withdraw support to party's RS nominee, trigger speculation over switching sides

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Lucknow, Oct 28 (PTI) In an apparent U-turn, five of the 10 BSP MLAs who had proposed Ramji Gautam as the party candidate for the Rajya Sabha withdrew their support on Wednesday, saying their signatures were forged.

The five Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs have given in writing that their signatures on the senior leader’s nomination papers were forged, Vidhan Sabha secretariat sources said.

But the dramatic development, a day after Gautam had filed nomination for next month’s Rajya Sabha elections, triggered speculation that the five Uttar Pradesh MLAs are planning to switch sides.

The five MLAs are Aslam Raini, Aslam Chaudhary, Mujtaba Siddiqui, Hakim Lal Bind and Hargovind Bhargava.

The scrutiny of nominations is being undertaken Wednesday for the election on November 9.

The returning officer will look into the complaint about the forged signatures and take a decision, sources said.

On Monday, Mayawati’s party had fielded its national coordinator and Bihar in-charge Ramji Gautam for the Rajya Sabha elections even though it did not have the number to ensure his victory.

BSP leaders had indicated that they expected the other non-BJP parties to support his candidature, Altogether, 11 candidates, including eight from the BJP, have filed their papers for the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh going to the polls in the biennial elections.

Given the overwhelming strength of the BJP in the UP Assembly, all eight candidates – including Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri – fielded by the ruling party are expected to be elected.

Of the 10 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh that are falling vacant, three were earlier held by the BJP, four by the Samajwadi Party, two by the BSP and one by the Congress. PTI SAB ASH ASH