In another jolt to the opposition Third Front, the Rajasthan high court on Friday disallowed BSP MLA from voting in the Rajya Sabha election on Saturday.
With the opposition challenge fading away, the BJP is now virtually set to win all four seats from Rajasthan. The vacation bench of Justice Prakash Gupta ruled that BSP MLA BL Kushwah will not vote as he is jailed in a murder case.
In its order, the court ruled, “Right to vote is not a Fundamental Right but a Statutory Right given by the People’s Representation Act (PRA), 1951. Section 62 of the Act provides that no shall vote if he is confined in a prison or in lawful custody of the police.”
Kushwah is incarcerated in Dholpur jail in a murder case. His advocate Rajeev Surana had pleaded before the court that right to vote is a right of every citizen and the MLA should be allowed to cast postal ballot.
The court, which heard arguments on Thursday, pronounced its judgement on Friday. It dismissed Kushwah’s plea, ruling that “Presently the BSP MLA is in jail in connection with 302 of the IPC which is pending before the additional sessions judge, Dholpur as per section 62, sub clause 5 of the PRA he has no right to vote.”
Additional advocate general Brahmanand Sandhu who appeared on behalf of the state government had challenged Kushwah’s plea to be allowed to vote.
Sandhu said the court also noted that the petitioner had not made the Chief Election Commissioner of India and the secretary, Rajasthan state assembly, party to the petition which is necessary by law. “On this count alone, the present petition deserves to be dismissed,” the court said.
Rejection of Kushwah’s plea to vote whittled down the combined opposition votes to 33, eight short of the required number of 41.
The opposition came together to form the Third Front and is supporting independent candidate Kamal Morarka. The Third Front comprises Congress with 24 MLAs, NPP with four, BSP with three and three independents. On Thursday, the BJP had ‘poached’ two Zamindara Party MLAs who were earlier in the opposition camp.
Voting will take place on Saturday and the BJP which now has 166 votes - 160 BJP MLAs, four independents and two Zamindara Party MLAs - is almost sure to win the four Rajya Sabha seats from Rajasthan.
Not taking any chances, the BJP has confined its MLAs and supporting MLAs to a hotel near Jaipur where they have been given training on how to vote. The four candidates - Union minister Venkaiah Naidu, party national vice president Om Mathur, Harshvardhan Singh and Ramkumar Verma, are also in the hotel.
The opposition camp seemed dejected. Independent MLA Raj Kumar Sharma, who is supporting Morarka, said they would not indulge in horse trading to get votes. “We leave it to the MLAs to vote according to their conscience. Maybe there will be cross voting or invalid votes. That’s all we can hope for.”