BHUBANESWAR: Even as the stage is set for the Presidential polls on Monday, Congress MLAs of the State have resolved to vote for UPA candidate Meira Kumar.
However, two of 16 Congress MLAs of Odisha are unlikely to vote due their illness. While Subal Sahu, party’s Bijepur MLA has been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai, Salepur MLA Prakash Chandra Behera is also seriously ill.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and leader of the Congress Legislature Party Narasingh Mishra said the 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. 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 mediapersons, party legislator Naba Kishore Das said all the MLAs have been asked by the AICC to support UPA candidate Meira Kumar. “The party has taken a stand and we are making all possible efforts to ensure that Meira wins,” he said.
Scheduled meetings of the UPA candidate with Odisha Congress MLAs here was cancelled twice. She could not reach Bhubaneswar from Hyderabad to attend the first meeting due to a technical snag in the airplane. The second meeting was cancelled as she had other engagements.
However, sources 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 that 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 an Odisha MLA’s vote has been fixed at 149 while that of an MP will be 708.