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Cross-voting by 116 legislators helped Kovind in presidential election, says BJP

At the end of the vote count on Thursday, Kovind secured 2,930 votes with the total value of 702,044 as against 1,844 by opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the absence of a whip by any political party.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2017 12:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ram Nath Kovind,Presidential election,President of India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah congratulates Ram Nath Kovind on being elected as the 14th President of India, in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

More than 100 legislators across the country cross-voted in favour of the BJP-led NDA nominee, Ram Nath Kovind, in the July 17 presidential election.

Cross-voting by MLAs was reported in West Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress is in power, and in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Goa.

At the end of the vote count on Thursday, Kovind secured 2,930 votes with the total value of 702,044 as against 1,844 by opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the absence of a whip by any political party.

Kovind’s overall vote value was 661 more than the assured value of 701,382, comprising lawmakers from the NDA and some opposition parties. In contrast, Kumar’s total vote value stood at 367,314.

“The Congress candidate had asked MPs and MLAs to vote on the basis of antaraatma ki awaz (inner conscience). There are 116 people who had not openly pledged their support to Kovind but voted for him. We thank each and everyone for their support and those who listened to their antaraatma ki awaz,” said Bhupendra Yadav, a BJP general secretary and Kovind’s campaign manager.

The total combined value of votes in the presidential election is 1098,903 — 549,408 for 543 Lok Sabha and 233 Rajya Sabha parliamentarians, and 549,495 for 4,120 legislators in state assemblies.

Large-scale cross-voting exposed the vulnerability of the opposition camp, especially Congress legislators favouring Kovind in poll-bound Gujarat. As many as 11 Congress MLAs voted for the NDA candidate.

It exposed chinks in the opposition party facing rebellion by senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela.

Besides, three Rajya Sabha seats in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be vacant in August and the Congress expects to win one, provided it can keep its flock together. The BJP is comfortably placed on the other two seats.

“We will thoroughly look into the matter once the final results come from states and take appropriate action. However, Kumar got more votes than expected in many states such as Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland. The important aspect is that the opposition parties stood united and will remain so in future as well,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

Rajasthan brought some cheer for the Congress as Kumar secured half-a-dozen more votes than expected. While the Congress has 24 MLAs and got the support of two BSP legislators and two independents, Kumar secured 34 votes.

It was, however, not clear whether any of the surplus votes came from the BJP, which has 161 MLAs. Kovind got the support of 166 and it’s likely that the additional votes for Kumar might have come from smaller parties.

In Uttar Pradesh, Kumar was expected to get the vote of 74 legislators from the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal. However, she got 65, indicating cracks in the opposition camp, especially the SP.

About a dozen legislators from the opposition camp in Maharashtra voted for Kovind. The BJP, the Shiv Sena and some smaller parties that assured their support to the NDA candidate constituted 195 MLAs, but Kovind ended up with 208 votes.

The opposition camp comprising 42 MLAs of the Congress and 41 of the Nationalist Congress Party had the support of nine MLAs from the AIMIM, SP and other parties. But Kumar got only 77 votes.

The BJP that has made strong forays in West Bengal secured the support of at least five MLAs from the opposition camp. The BJP and its ally, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, have three MLAs each. Kovind secured 11 votes.

In Tamil Nadu, both factions of the AIADMK voted for the NDA’s presidential candidate. It was one of the few states such as Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka and Uttarakhand that didn’t witness any cross-voting.

In Madhya Pradesh, Kumar got the support of 57 MLAs. The Congress has 56 MLAs in the state and Kumar had the assured support of four BSP MLAs and three Independents.

Of the 776 members in Parliament, eight did not vote. The votes of 21 were declared invalid.

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 23:14 IST