RS election: 3 court judgments give boost to Cong prospects in MP

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Jun 09, 2016 21:55 IST
Senior congress leader Kamal Nath holding a meeting of party MLAs in connection with Rajya Sabha elections, in Bhopal on Thursday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT photo)

Three court judgments on Thursday gave a major boost to the morale of the Congress looking at one of the 3 seats in Rajya Sabha election whereas the ruling party suffered another setback in the quest of the third seat.

MP high court Jabalpur bench on Thursday directed Election Commission of India (ECI) to issue a postal ballot to ailing Congress MLA and leader Opposition Satyadev Katare to cast his vote in the election. Katare is hospitalized in a Mumbai hospital for treatment of cancer.

The election for three seats of Rajya Sabha in Madhya Pradesh is scheduled to be held on June 11, 2016. The BJP is most likely to win two of the three seats while Congress nominee Vivek Tankha and independent candidate Vinod Gontia have locked horns for the third seat. Gontia happens to be the state BJP general secretary and the BJP has announced its support to him. However, besides the BJP MLAs he needs support from at least 9 more MLAs to win the election

The court issued the interim direction during hearing of a petition filed by MP Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to issue a postal ballot to the ailing elector. The ECI had earlier turned down its request to issue the postal ballot to Katare.

Election Commission of India (ECI) had ruled that those who wished to cast their votes would have to be physically present at the voting venue to cast their votes. This caused worries in the Congress camp as Katare’s health condition is not good. The party was thinking of bringing Katare to Bhopal in an air ambulance for his voting if the court decision was not to come in its favour.

A battery of advocates represented MPCC who include senior counsels Rajendra Tiwari, Anil Khare and Shashank Shekhar. They argued that Katare has a statutory right to vote and the ECI cannot refuse to issue a postal ballot to him as it will adversely affect his right. The counsels stated Katare was not in a condition to move but was in a state to cast his vote.

Besides high court’s order on Katare what came as further relief to the Congress was high court Indore bench granting a bail to its MLA from Barwani Ramesh Patel. He was lodged in a jail on rape charges.

BJP MLA Rajendra Meshram ineligible to cast his vote

Another judgment which went against the BJP reportedly came from Supreme Court which dismissed the petition of BJP MLA from Singrauli district Rajendra Meshram. As per a Supreme Court judgment Meshram had retained his position as an MLA but he is not allowed to cast his vote during the assembly proceedings. Hence, ECI also ruled that Meshram was ineligible to cast his vote in the election. Meshram challenged the ECI’s ruling in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Talking to the Hindustan Times the state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra said like Uttrakhand the Congress’ stand was again validated by the Courts. This showed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah were functioning like dictators and wanted to win the third seat too in Madhya Pradesh by using their authority.

BJP MLA and state BJP spokesperson Vishwas Sarang said the Congress leaders looked nervous and it suggested that there was something fishy on their part. If the Congress leaders were so confident of their victory on the third seat why all the leaders were camping here, he asked.

ECI to file appeal

Election Commission of India (ECI) will file an appeal against the single judge bench order of high court which directed it to issue a postal ballot to ailing Congress MLA Satyadev Katare for Rajya Sabha elections in MP.

ECI counsel Siddharth Seth said the ECI was going to file the appeal on Friday.

The appeal will be filed against the single judge bench’s interim order issued on a petition filed by the MP Pradesh Congress Committee on Thursday, the counsel said.

In a related development, independent candidate Vinod Gontia filed an appeal against the single judge bench order on the ground that Katare filed an application for issuance of a postal ballot on June 7, 2016 while he should have filed the petition prior to June 3, 2016 as per the rules.

The last date for the candidates to withdraw their names was June 3, 2016 and as per the rules, the request for issuance of a postal ballot had to be made prior to this date, the appeal said.

The appeal is expected to be heard on Friday.

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