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Ram Nath Kovind wins Prez poll: Cross-voting raises questions over Congress, NCP unity in Maharashtra

While the Opposition had the backing of 90 legislators, UPA candidate Meira Kumar got only 77 votes from Maharashtra. Kovind bagged 208 votes, although the ruling side had mobilised support of 195.

mumbai Updated: Jul 21, 2017 12:07 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Ram Nath Kovind,President of India
The results of the election were announced on Thursday(HT FILE)

At least 13 MLAs from the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) voted in favour of NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential election, results of which were announced on Thursday, putting a question mark over the unity of Opposition in Maharashtra.

While the Opposition had the backing of 90 legislators, UPA candidate Meira Kumar got only 77 votes from Maharashtra. Kovind bagged 208 votes, although the ruling side had mobilised support of 195.

According to the sources, the results are a clear indication of the split within the parties ahead of the next Assembly elections. This may mean a setback for the Congress, which was trying to put together a front of opposition parties to counter the BJP in the 2019 polls.

Earlier this year, leaders of Congress, NCP, Peasants and Workers Party, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (S) took out a Sangharsh Yatra to highlight the demand for farm loan waiver.

Significantly, the main opposition parties, the Congress and the NCP, are divided, with several unhappy leaders.

Read: Ram Nath Kovind: 10 things to know about PM Modi’s pick for India’s next president

“There are several disgruntled legislators in both the parties. In NCP, Vijaysinh Mohite Patil, Suresh Dhas, Jaydutt Kshirsagar are not on the same page as the leadership for various reasons. Congress’ Narayan Rane, his MLA son Nitesh Rane openly criticize party leadership. Leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil showered praises on the Fadnavis government recently,” said a Congress leader.

The cross-voting comes ahead of the monsoon session of the state legislature scheduled to start on Monday.

Another Congress leader said the atmosphere of suspicion and weakened opposition unity will be evident in the session. “The split is in both the parties. The blame game is pointless, as it will actually work in favour of ruling parties,” said an NCP leader.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “Barring expelled MLA Ramesh Kadam, all our 40 members voted for Meira Kumar.”

Congress state chief Ashok Chavan said, “Despite knowing our weakness on the national level, we fought on ideological grounds. In Maharashtra, too, we fought the polls with support of smaller parties. It will be very difficult to identify the defection. It was an election fought at the national level. Our leadership in Delhi will take appropriate action.”

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 12:07 IST