Voters in the forthcoming presidential election include several electors housed in different prisons. Among them are five MPs, quartered not in gracious bungalows but in wire-fenced cells. The UPA is busy compiling the figures of these incarcerated legislators.
The MPs are Shibu Soren (JMM), Babubhai Katara (BJP), Uma Kant Yadav (BSP) and RJD’s Rajesh Ranjan (aka Pappu Yadav) and Mohammad Shahabuddin — though the last has been convicted and therefore not eligible to vote. Together, jailed MPs account for a vote value of around 3,000 — out of the total electoral college of 10.98 lakh.
About a dozen MLAs, too, are in jail in different states — Ram Kishore Singh alias Rama Singh and Narendra Narayan Pandey in Bihar and four in Uttar Pradesh — Amar Mani Tripathi, Mukhtar Ansari, Akhilesh Singh and Uma Kant Yadav. A UPA leader acknowledged, "The candidate is entitled to campaign with them."
"To ensure a foolproof election, we have to ensure that we have 65 per cent of the votes with us," said a senior Congress leader, adding that they were prepared to "knock on every door".