Ahead of filing his nomination for the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary on Sunday said debates such as those on the Gyanvapi mosque should not be entertained in modern democratic India.
Chaudhary, who will be filing his nomination on Monday, remained tight-lipped on whether he was upset with the apparent delay by the Samajwadi Party (SP) in announcing his name for the Rajya Sabha polls even as sources in his party said he was initially "taken aback" by the coalition partner's attitude.
Once elected to the Rajya Sabha, Chaudhary, the joint candidate of the SP-RLD for the Rajya Sabha elections, will be his party's "lone ranger" in the Upper House of the Parliament.
"If you look at it, the law does not allow these sorts of debates (like the ongoing Gyanvapi issue) anymore. We must not entertain these debates in modern democratic India. Let us not look to create more disturbances for the future using our past as an excuse. We need to be forward-looking and address the real issues of real India," Chaudhary told PTI.
When asked about his nomination, the RLD chief said, "I will be filing my nomination papers on Monday. Today, there is an event in Delhi on the occasion of the death anniversary of Chaudhary Charan Singh. We are doing a 'Samajik Nyaay conference', and we are asking for a caste census along with other issues. There will be representatives from various parties."
Meanwhile, RLD sources said that the party chief was "taken aback" by the SP's delay in announcing his name as the candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections. "However, eventually everything fell in place," a source said.
On RLD's role in the Legislative Assembly and outside, Chaudhary said, "We will play a very positive role in the UP Assembly. We will look at developing our areas and constituencies. Among the opposition, we are the Number 2 party, and it is a big responsibility. We will keep the unity strong amongst our ranks in the Opposition."
In the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections held earlier this year, the BJP won 255 seats, while its allies Apna Dal (Sonelal) and NISHAD secured 12 and six seats, respectively.
The SP won 111 seats while its ally RLD got eight. The Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, another ally of the SP, won six seats. The Congress secured two seats, while the BSP won one seat.
When asked how he views the 2022-23 Uttar Pradesh Budget, recently tabled in the Assembly, Chaudhary said, "(The BJP) people say these same things ad nauseam. If we look at every budget speech, they are very similar. The fact is that UP's debt is going up, unemployment has also soared."
"It has not at all addressed the issue of unemployment. The financial health of the state PSUs is very poor. Infrastructure is poor and so is the quality of new roads. The Purvanchal Expressway is breaking up, and more attention should be paid to it. We all know that a large portion of UP Budget goes in paying salaries," Chaudhary said.
On pending payment to sugarcane farmers, he said an increase in production of the crop led to the issue. "You (BJP government) have nothing to do with that. The private industries are paying and the farmers are producing more. So they are getting more. You have not created any mechanism by which they can get timely payment," he said.
According to the Election Commission of India, the last date for filing the nomination for the Rajya Sabha polls is May 31. They will be scrutinised on June 1, while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is June 3.
Polling will be held on June 10 and the votes will be counted on the same day.
With 273 MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the ruling BJP-led NDA is expected to comfortably get eight members elected to the Upper House of Parliament, while the SP and its allies – RLD and SBSP – with a with a strength of 125 legislators, will be able to ensure the victory of three candidates. Uttar Pradesh sends 31 members to the Rajya Sabha.
Among the 11 retiring MPs from the state, five are from the BJP, three from the SP, two from the BSP and one from the Congress. The five retiring Rajya Sabha MPs of the BJP are Zafar Islam, Shiv Pratap Shukla, Sanjay Seth, Surendra Nagar and Jai Prakash Nishad.
The SP leaders completing their terms include former Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council chairman Sukhram Singh Yadav, whose son Mohit has joined the BJP.
Besides Yadav, the tenure of Reoti Raman Singh and Vishambhar Prasad Nishad will also end in July.
The BSP MPs whose term is coming to an end are Satish Chandra Misra and Ashok Siddharth.
Former Congress leader Kapil Sibal's term also ends in July.
With 403 elected members in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, a candidate will require at least 34 votes for victory.
The outcome of the state Assembly election held in February-March has changed the equation this time.