An MLA in jail on rape charges is eager to get out of lock-up on parole to cast his vote for June 11 Rajya Sabha (RS) election. The leader of opposition, battling with cancer, is looking for court’s intervention to allow him to cast the vote through a postal ballot. Another MLA cannot cast his vote, as he does not have the right to vote in the state assembly itself.
Madhya Pradesh has hardly witnessed such an action-packed RS election in the past, though there is no apparent sign of horse trading from any side.
There are four candidates in the fray. While the BJP’s Anil Dave and MJ Akbar are sure to romp home because of the party’s tally of legislators in the assembly, the third seat is the bone of contention between the Congress’s Vivek Tankha and independent candidate Vinod Gontia.
What remains to be seen is whether Tankha makes it to RS or Gontia goes there.
In normal circumstances, Dave, Akbar and Tankha would have won, but the BJP’s quest for winning the third seat made the election out of the ordinary.
At least six petitions have been filed ahead of the elections. Court judgments on three of the petitions have gone in favour of the Congress: postal ballot to leader Opposition Satyadev Katare as ordered by high court Jabalpur bench, release of Congress MLA Ramesh Patel on bail from jail as ordered by high court’s Indore bench and dismissal of BJP MLA Rajendra Meshram’s petition filed in the Supreme Court to allow him to cast his vote. The fifth petition is an appeal against the HC judgment on Katare.
Questions doing the rounds in the BJP circles are when the BJP does not have enough number of votes to win the third seat why it is making an attempt to get it.
Also, if the party is really serious about winning the third seat, why it should field Gontia instead of any political heavy weight or a moneyed person as it did in Uttar Pradesh.
Many in the party did not welcome the idea of the third candidate — though independent — thrust upon the state unit by the central BJP leadership.
“The election has become interesting because neither the Congress nor the independent candidates have the winning number. Though the Congress has 57 MLAs, it is short of one vote to win the seat,” said political analyst Girishankar.
He said, “MP has always seen the practice of unopposed RS election. In fact, when there is no vote, a party should not field a candidate. And this is the reason why the legal battle is being fought on several fronts, but the state unit of the BJP is not plumping for dishonest means to win the third seat.”
However, arithmetic is in favour of Tankha. With the Bahujan Samaj Party’s support Tankha has 61 MLAs on his side including 57 from the Congress. There are also attempts to win over at least one of the three independent MLAs to help Tankha if a couple of the MLAs cannot cast their votes. If Tankha wins, Gontia can draw consolation from the fact that his status as a politician is improved.