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By Express News Service

LUCKNOW: With just five months tenure left for the present BJP government, the UP Assembly elected its Deputy Speaker after 14 years of a gap here at a special single-day session on Monday. Rebel Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA Nitin Agarwal walked away with the honour.

Significantly, the BJP had extended its support to Nitin Agarwal, who got 304 votes of the total 368 polled during the election. Nitin is the son of Naresh Agarwal who had switched over to the BJP from the SP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The SP had fielded its lawmaker from Sitapur Narendra Singh Verma against Nitin. Verma secured just 60 votes while four votes were declared invalid. 

In a house of 403, BJP and allies have 304 MLAs while Samajwadi Party has 49. The Congress MLAs – seven in number – had boycotted the polling process. However, one rebel Congress MLA Aditi Singh from Rae Bareli cast her vote. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party has 16 MLAs in the Assembly, BJP ally Apna Dal (S) has nine MLAs, OP Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has four MLAs. There are three Independent MLAs and two unaffiliated MLAs.

During the election for the Deputy Speaker, cross-voting took place as the SP candidate managed to get 13 extra votes than its total strength. As per the sources, seven rebel MLAs of BSP had voted in favour of the SP candidate.

Earlier, the single-day special session of the UP assembly began on a stormy note with opposition lawmakers protesting against the price rise and farmers’ plight. The SP MLAs demonstrated at the Assembly gate while the Congress demanded a debate on the farmers’ issues.

Leader of Congress legislators Aradhana Mishra Mona said that BJP had made a mockery of the post of Deputy Speaker’s post by getting it elected four and half years after the assembly tenure. She said that BJP had done the same in 2001 when it got elected Ammar Rizvi in the last leg of the Assembly. Rejecting the opposition allegation, the BJP said that it had asked the opposition to give candidate or deputy speakership but the opposition parties failed to do so.

Finally, they decided to field an SP legislator for the post. Interestingly, Nitin Agarwal had switched loyalties more than two years back to the BJP when his father and former MP Naresh Agarwal had joined the party leaving SP. The SP had even filed a petition before Speaker HN Dixit for disqualification of Nitin Agarwal but it was rejected by Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit.

As per the political pundits, BJP supported Nitin Agarwal to woo the traders’ community ahead of the 2022 polls. Nitin’s father Naresh Agarwal is believed to be a strong Vaishya (traders community) leader. 

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