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Who betrayed Meira Kumar in MP?

NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind got at least three votes more than expected.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2017 19:50 IST
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Meira Kumar,MP,Madhya Pradesh
UPA presidential candidate Meira Kumar arrives for the UPA meeting where she was welcomed, in New Delhi on July 16, 2017. (PTI)

Opposition cross-voting at the presidential election could be some solace for the BJP-led government in Madhya Pradesh, struggling to quell a farm unrest that left five farmers dead in police firing in Mandsaur this June.

NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind got at least three votes more than what was expected. BJP leaders say Congress legislators voted for him, but the opposition party is not convinced.

Amid the claims and counter-claims, a vital question remained unanswered. Who betrayed Meira Kumar, the opposition’s nominee for the July 17 election? The results were declared on Thursday and Kovind won convincingly.

The BJP has 166 MLAs, including the Speaker, in the Madhya Pradesh assembly. The Congress has 56 and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) four. There are three independent legislators, while one assembly seat is vacant.

BJP legislator Narottam Mishra, the parliamentary affairs minister, is not eligible to vote after the Election Commission disqualified him for three years this June over a paid news case.

The three independent MLAs had pledged their support to Kovind.

Kumar should have got at least 60 votes from the Congress and the BSP, which had declared its support to her. But she got 57 against Kovind’s 171 from Madhya Pradesh.

That means either three Congress MLAs or three from the BSP voted for Kovind. Or, it could be a total of three Congress and BSP legislators who cross-voted.

During Kumar’s visit to Bhopal a couple of days ahead of voting, Congress and BSP legislators met her and expressed their support to her.

But the BJP had predicted faultlines in the opposition.

“I had told the media ahead of polling that there would be a rift in the Congress. My words came true,” junior cooperative minister Vishwas Sarang said on Friday.

The Congress and BSP deny any chink in their parties.

“I will not comment on the Congress but our stand was clear. We followed the instructions from Behenji (BSP chief Mayawati). We are missionaries and don’t buckle under pressure or can be enticed by anyone,” BSP leader Satyaprakash Sakhwar said.

For the Congress’s state unit, what matters is the number at the end of the day.

“Meira Kumar got 57 votes. This means she got one vote more than the number of Congress MLAs. There is no question of betrayal by any of the Congress MLAs,” a party leader said.

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 19:50 IST