Nitin Agrawal of Samajwadi Party was elected the Deputy Speaker of Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Monday. His candidature was backed by the BJP. While he gained 304 votes in his favour, SP-backed candidate Narendra Verma got 60 out of the 364 valid votes cast.

Agrawal, SP rebel MLA from Hardoi, who has been keeping distance with his party since 2019, had filed his nomination papers on Sunday accompanied by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his ministers.

The SP fielded its Sitapur legislator Narendra Verma, who submitted his nomination papers in presence of Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ram Govind Chaudhary, other SP MLAs and some BSP rebel leaders the same day.

The Assembly Speaker had recently rejected an SP application to disqualify Agrawal from the House, for defying his party whip against attending a special Assembly session in 2019.

After Agrawal’s candidature was backed by BJP, the SP termed the move “undemocratic”, arguing that usually, a legislator from the biggest Opposition party is elected unopposed to the Deputy Speaker post. Refuting this, CM Adityanath said the BJP respected “parliamentary traditions”, and that was why the candidate was chosen from the biggest Opposition party. Agrawal, whose father Naresh Agrawal joined the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, was also supported by a Congress and a BSP MLA.

“He is still technically a Samajwadi Party MLA,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna had said while accompanying Agrawal to file nomination papers.

Meanwhile, accusing the BJP of using the deputy speaker election to divert attention from the various problems plaguing Uttar Pradesh, the Congress boycotted the poll. Congress workers also sat in front of the state assembly carrying placards demanding justice for farmers who died in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on October 3.

The party also alleged that both the BJP and SP were involved in a friendly fight and were keen on the election and not on discussing the various raging issues facing the state.