BHUBANESWAR: A day before the presidential elections, Odisha Congress MLAs resolved to vote for UPA candidate Meira Kumar.
However, two out of the 16 Congress MLAs of Odisha are not likely to vote due their illness. While Subal Sahu, party's Bijepur MLA has been admitted to Mumbai hospital, Salipur MLA Prakash Chandra Behera is also seriously ill.
Leader of the opposition in the Assembly and leader of the Congress Legislature Party Narsingh Mishra said both these MLAs may not vote in the presidential polls.
Meanwhile, Congress MLAs met in the official residence of Mishra on Sunday and pledged their support to Meira Kumar. The meeting was attended by All India Congress Committee (AICC) observer Siddharth Patel who advised the MLAs to go by the partyline in the presidential polls.
Talking to media persons, party legislator Naba Kishore Das said all the MLAs have been asked to support UPA candidate Meira Kumar by the AICC.
"The party has taken a stand and we are making all possible efforts to ensure Meira Kumar wins," he said.
Scheduled meetings of UPA candidate Meira Kumar with the Odisha Congress MLAs here was cancelled twice.
The first meeting was cancelled as she could not reach Bhubaneswar from Hyderabad due to a technical snag. The second meeting was cancelled as she had other engagements.
Sources, however, maintained that the second meeting was cancelled as the MLAs did not want president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Prasad Harichandan to attend it. Some of the MLAs also raised the issue of differences between the organisational and legislative wings in the party and drew attention of the AICC observer to the statements made by former minister Suresh Kumar Routray against them.
Meanwhile, speculation over cross-voting triggered a war of words between the political parties. While Congress chief whip in the assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati claimed there will be cross-voting from BJD as many MPs and MLAs do not support the NDA presidential candidate, the BJD and BJP ruled out such a possibility. Senior BJP leader Sajjan Sharma said Congress MLAs may resort to cross-voting in view of their differences with Harichandan.
The value of a Odisha MLA's vote has been fixed at 149 while that of a MP will be 708.