Lucknow, Apr 8 (PTI) Opposition unity will be tested during the UP Legislative Council polls, with arc lights on how the ruling party and the opposition chalk out their course of action.

The notification for polls to 13 seats of the council would be issued tomorrow. The election would be held on April 26 and counting of votes would take place the same day.

After securing a thumping win in the recently-concluded biennial Rajya Sabha elections from the state by bagging nine out of 10 seats that went to polls, the BJP is confident of securing at least 11 council seats going by its brute strength in the assembly along with its allies.

In the 100-member UP Legislative Council, the BJP has just 13 members. The Samajwadi Party has 61 members, the BSP nine, the Congress two, the RLD one and others 12. Two seats are vacant.

To ensure victory, a candidate needs 29 first preference votes, the state election office said.

Arithmetically, the BJP and its allies are likely to win 11 out of 13 seats comfortably and still be left with five additional votes.

Exuding confidence about the ruling party increasing its tally in the Upper House, UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said, “Our party will register a thumping win in the council polls, bagging 11 of the 13 seats going to polls.” Samajwadi Party spokesperson and MLC Sunil Singh Sajan said the SP-BSP combine would comfortably win two seats.

“With the backing of the BSP and the Congress along with mass support, we will ensure a grand performance in the Lok Sabha polls. In these (council) polls, the BJP may have the numbers, but in the general elections we will have people’s mandate,” SP chief and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said.

The party’s confidence stems from the victory of the SP-BSP combine in the recent Lok Sabha bypolls.

The combine struck gold in the ‘saffron’ bastion of Gorakhpur, associated with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Phulpur, represented by his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya.

UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said, “Going purely by numbers, we cannot field any party candidate (for the council polls), but we can support the candidates from other like-minded parties.

“However, we expect the BSP to support our candidate (if we decide to field one), since we supported the BSP candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections,” he said.

According to the Election Commission, tenures of 13 MLCs, including SP national president Akhilesh Yadav and two ministers in the Adityanath-led government, Mahendra Kumar Singh and Mohsin Raza, will end on May 5.

Of the 13 seats falling vacant, seven were held by the SP, two each by the BJP and the BSP, and one RLD. The thirteenth seat was held by former SP minister Ambika Chaudhary. His seat fell vacant when he switched over from the SP to the BSP.

Apart from the SP chief, six other MLCs from the party whose term is coming to an end are state party unit chief Naresh Chandra Uttam, senior party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary, Umar Ali Khan, Madhu Gupta, Ramsakal Gurjar and Vijay Yadav.

Other MLCs, whose term ends on May 5, are Vijay Pratap and Sunil Kumar Chittor (both the BSP) and Chaudhary Mushtaq, the lone the RLD member.

Though the BJP and its allies have 324 MLAs in the 403-member state Assembly, it might not get the required strength in the Upper House to get the bills passed even after winning 11 of the 13 seats by dint of its strength.

During the Winter Session of the state legislature last year, the Aditynanath-led government had suffered embarrassment when it failed to ensure the passage of the Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime (UPCOC) Bill in the Upper House.

The last date for filing nominations for the council polls is April 16. Scrutiny of nominations will be done on April 17, while the last date for withdrawal of the same is April 19.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.