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Presidential election: Cross-voting by 11 MLAs spells trouble for Congress in Gujarat

The cross-voting came amid rumours of former chief minister and incumbent Congress Legislative Party leader Shankersinh Vaghela hinting at his resignation from the party with his supporters.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2017 07:11 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
President of India‬,‪Ram Nath Kovind‬,‪India‬‬
Ram Nath Kovind is greeted with a bouquet on being elected as the 14th President of India, in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

The Congress received a big jolt Friday in assembly election-bound Gujarat as results of the presidential poll were declared.

Statistics revealed that of the total 57 Congress MLAs in the state, 11 have cross-voted in NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind’s favour.

“It is unfortunate that the Opposition candidate received lesser votes. The party will think over the matter and decide future actions,” Gujarat Congress pradesh committee president Bharatsinh Solanki said on Wednesday.

Gujarat has 182 assembly segments of which, 181 votes were cast. The BJP has a total of 121 MLAs. Kovind received a total of 132 votes from Gujarat. Two NCP MLAs have claimed to have voted in Kumar’s favour. Of the 57 Congress MLAs, 46 voted for Opposition candidate Meira Kumar which indicates that 11 of them voted for Kovind.

“Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had asked party members(before polls) to listen to their inner voice. In Gujarat, Congress MLAs have done the same,” said BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya.

The Rajya Sabha election, which are due in August, loom largely over the Congress’ reaction in the matter.

The cross-voting can jeopardise chances for Congress leader Ahmed Patel.

The cross-voting, came amid rumours of former chief minister and incumbent Congress Legislative Party leader Shankersinh Vaghela hinting at his resignation from the party with his supporters, including several MLAs.

While Vaghela, who is slated to carry out a show of strength on Friday on the occasion of his 77th birthday, has ruled out possibility of joining the BJP, top Congress leaders have maintained that there is no rift in the unit. The poll results however, have pointed towards potential cracks in the party’s state unit.

The Congress, albeit verbally, has asked the members to stay away from Vaghela’s function on Friday in Gandhinagar.

The Congress has not won assembly polls in Gujarat since 1995 . The party has reportedly been at odds with Vaghela over his public outbursts on multiple occasions regarding the chief ministrial candidate.

The trouble seems to have started last month with Vaghela unfollowing top leaders, including party vice president Rahul Gandhi on Twitter.

He also called a meeting of his supporters in Gandhinagar last month , where he sent out a message that he was the most seasoned leader to lead the party in forthcoming polls and that he was unhappy.

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 07:10 IST