Presidential poll 2017: Cross-voting in Maharashtra as Kovind gets votes from 23 additional MLAs
At least six MLAs of the Congress and the NCP in the Maharashtra Assembly seem to have voted for Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential poll.
Mumbai: At least six MLAs of the Congress and the NCP in the Maharashtra Assembly seem to have voted for the victorious NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential poll.
Kovind got the votes of 208 MLAs — 23 more than the collective tally of MLAs of the BJP and the Shiv Sena.
Opposition nominee Meira Kumar bagged votes from 77 MLAs, which is six less than the total strength of the two parties in the House.
In the 288-member House, the BJP has 122 members, followed by the Sena with 63, Congress with 42, NCP (41), Peasants and Workers Party of India (PWP-I) (3), Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) (3), MIM (2), MNS, Samajwadi Party, BBM, CPM and RSP with one each and seven independents.
Of the total MLAs, Maharashtra Bahujan Vikas Aghadi's Kshitij Patil did not vote in the presidential poll on 17 July as he was abroad, while votes from two MLAs were invalid, leaving votes from 285 lawmakers valid.
Meanwhile, the Peasant's and Workers' party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil claimed that more than six MLAs of the Congress voted for Kovind.
"None of my party colleagues voted for Kovind. Same is the case with a CPI(M) member. This means that at least 10 Congress voters have crossed the party line," he claimed.
Incidentally, Ravi Rana, an independent MLA from Amravati in east Maharashtra, had ahead of the presidential election claimed that a group of 15 MLAs from independent and small parties would vote for the NDA candidate.
He had also claimed at least six MLAs from the Congress and seven from the NCP were in touch with him and they would support Kovind.
Meanwhile, the cross-voting has triggered a blame game between the Congress and the NCP.
Of the two jailed NCP MLAs — Chhagan Bhujbal and Ramesh Kadam — who were allowed to vote by court, Kadam had publicly announced that he had voted for Kovind.
NCP state unit president Sunil Tatkare on Thursday said 40 out of all 41 MLAs of the party had voted for Kumar.
"It is the Congress whose members have voted against their Kumar. Sharad Pawarji had announced the name of Meira Kumar, how can we then go against the party line?" he questioned.
Tatkare's Congress counterpart Ashok Chavan, however, said since there was no whip for the presidential poll, there is a possibility of a vote split.
"We will find out who cross-voted though the voting was confidential," he said, adding, "it is not possible to say at this stage whether action will be taken against members who had voted against Kumar."
Sena MP Sanjay Raut said it would be "deceptive" to think that the votes to the candidates represent the party position in the House as there is no whip in the election. "Sena was always of the view that the presidential election should have been unopposed. That means we would have been happier if all the 288 MLAs would have voted for Kovind," he said.
Interestingly, senior Congress leader Narayan Rane has congratulated Kovind for his victory.
"Congratulations to Ram Nath Kovind for getting elected to the country's highest post," he tweeted.
Speculation is rife that the entry of Rane — a former Shiv Sainik sulking in the Congress — in the BJP is imminent.
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