Presidential poll: Cross-voting favours Ram Nath Kovind to get 23 additional votes in Maharashtra
Ram Nath Kovind has secured 23 votes more than the official tally of the BJP and its ally Shiv Sena’s
strength in the Maharashtra legislative assembly, confirming speculation of heavy cross voting.
MUMBAI: National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind has secured 23 votes more than the official tally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Shiv Sena’s strength in the Maharashtra legislative assembly confirming speculation of heavy cross voting.
The numbers suggest that the BJP alone now has the support of 145 MLAs, which is the number required for simple majority in the 288-member House.
Out of the 288 MLAs in Maharashtra, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi’s Kshitij Patil from Vasai was on a foreign tour and hence didn’t vote in the presidential election. Out of the remaining 287 votes, two were invalid. Of the 285 valid votes, Kovind got 208 votes and Meira Kumar 77 votes.
The total strength of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the state assembly is 83. This means at least six of their MLAs voted for Kovind. The Congress has 42, while the NCP has 41 MLAs in the assembly. Out of the two jailed NCP MLAs, who were granted concession by the court for voting, Ramesh Kadam had openly told media representatives that he had voted for Kovind.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik tried to brush aside the question saying that only seven votes seemed to have crossed sides. When asked whose votes these were, he made an oblique reference to senior Congress leader Narayan Rane without naming him and said, “It is very difficult to say who voted for whom since it was a secret ballet. But, we all know of a senior Congress leader who had gone even to Gujarat
in a bid to join the BJP. That leader might have influenced some votes.”
State Congress president Ashok Chavan said that since there is no whip in the presidential election, chances of cross voting increase. He, however, reserved his comments on whether action would be taken against the members who crossed the party line.
Leader of Peasant’s and Workers’ party (PWP) Jayant Patil claimed that more than six of the Congress members have crossed party lines while voting.
“None of my party colleagues voted for Kovind. Same is the case with CPI(M) members. This means that at least 10 Congress members have crossed the party line,” he said.
That is not all. The Shiv Sena has 63 MLAs in the House and the party had threatened to quit the BJP-led government several times in the past. The BJP has only 122 MLAs of its own, which is 23 short of the simple majority mark of 145. If Shiv Sena’s 63 votes are deducted from 208 that Kovind bagged, the tally of the BJP’s votes will be 145. Hence, the result of cross voting appears to be a signal for the Shiv Sena rather than the Congress.
When asked about it, state BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari declined to comment. “The numbers are there in the open. You are free to interpret the way you like,” he said. Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut, however, said not much should be read into the figures.
Ravi Rana, an independent MLA from Amravati, had just ahead of the election said a group of 15 independent and small party MLAs would vote for the BJP candidate in the polls.