BENGALURU: Two MLAs from the state were absent during the voting for the presidential elections on Monday, taking the total tally of voters to 222. The two MLAs were rebel JD(S) MLA Cheluvarayaswamy, who is said to be in the US, and JD(S) MLA Y S V Datta.
JD(S) state president Kumaraswamy said Datta was on his way to Vidhana Soudha to cast his vote when he received news of the demise of his elder sister. “He called me immediately and sought my permission to return as his sister who was being cremated today (Monday), so we knew he would not be able to make it,” Kumaraswamy said.
The other MLA missing in action, Cheluvarayaswamy, and Congress chief whip Ashok Pattan received an earful from Chief Minister Siddaramaiah about this at the Congress Legislature Party meeting held on Monday morning, before polling began. Siddaramaiah took Pattan to task as he had not made sure about Cheluvarayaswamy’s presence and cost the Congress candidate for president Meira Kumar, a vote. Siddaramaiah was authorised by the Congress High Command to muster all votes necessary for their candidate in the state.
With these two missing MLAs, the Congress candidate lost two votes, as even the JD(S) voted for the Congress candidate.Kumaraswamy dismissed BJP state general secretary C T Ravi’s comments that some JD(S) MLAs had cross-voted for BJP candidate Ramanath Kovind. “As our national president Deve Gowda had made it clear earlier, we have gone with the Congress candidate and all our MLAs who voted did so for Meira Kumar,” he said.
Other rebel candidates accompanied Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to the polling booth. Out of the 222 MLAs, 204 of them voted before 1 pm. All the BJP MLAs voted in the first half of the day. Chikkodi MP Prakash Hukkeri was the lone MP who had sought permission to cast his vote from Bengaluru, while the rest chose to cast their vote in Delhi.
Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy and three other MLAs — S R Vishwanath of BJP, Congress MLAs Rudresh Gowda and Ambareesh — arrived in wheelchairs to cast their votes.
Soon after the polling ended, Assistant Returning Officer S Murthy and two others carried the ballot box to Delhi immediately.
In Karnataka, the electoral college comprises 28 Lok Sabha members, 12 Rajya Sabha members and 224 MLAs (with the exclusion of one nominated anglo Indian MLA). The value of each vote of an MP is 708, while that of an MLA in Karnataka is 131.