Cross voting by Shivpal, others marks Presidential election in UP, BJP uses occasion to break into Opposition unit
By Namita Bajpai | Express News Service | Published: 17th July 2017 11:09 PM |
LUCKNOW: The internal feud in the first family of Samajwadi Party resurfaced yet again with a group of party MLAs, led by party’s former state chief Shivpal Yadav, openly admitting to the media of cross-voting in favour of NDA candidate Kovind in the presidential elections against the official party line.
“I and a big chunk of MLAs with me and many other opposition members have voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind as per the wish of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav,” said Shivpal while emerging from Vidhan Bhawan after casting his vote.
In the presidential elections on Monday, 402 MLAs of 403-member UP assembly and three MPs exercised their franchise at Vidhan Bhawan. Sultanpur SP MLA Abrar Ahmad couldn't vote because of bad health.
Later in the evening, the leader of the opposition parties and SP leader Ram Govind Chaudhary and ex-cabinet minister Azam Khan said Shivapal lied to the media and he had instead voted for Meira Kumar as per the SP chief's diktat.
On the contrary, Shivpal had made his stand clear over the issue much in advance by saying that he would go by SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s choice and vote for Kovind.
Mulayam Singh Yadav's support for Kovind was evident when he was the only leader from the opposition camp to attend the dinner hosted by UP CM Yogi Adityanth during PM Modi’s visit to the state capital on June 20, 2017.
When SP national chief Akhilesh Yadav attended the June 22 meeting convened by UPA to finalise Meira Kumar's candidature, Shivpal, then openly proclaimed his support to Kovind.
Political observers, meanwhile, are of the opinion that the cross-voting in favour of Kovind was an attempt by the ruling party to demolish the opposition’s unity, especially, in the run up to 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
According to sources, in addition to Shivpal, a good number of BSP MLAs and a few from Congress camp too have voted against their respective party lines and allegedly supported Kovind.
Having been pushed to the periphery in UP by nephew Akhilesh, Shivpal neither attends any of the party events nor the Assembly which is undergoing the budget session.
Shivpal’s move is also being viewed as a goodwill gesture sent out to CM Adityanath as a ploy to safeguard his political future in case he fails to regain his stature in his own party by burying his differences with nephew Akhilesh.
Similarly, given the frequent desertions plaguing the blue brigade and virtually non-existent Grand Old Party, their MLAs might have cross voted on Monday relinquishing their official party line to keep a window open for future.
Meanwhile, three prominent independent MLAs, including Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya from Kunda, Amanmani Tripathi, accused in his wife’s murder case, from Nautanva and Vinod Kumar from Babaganj too voted for Kovind.