Even as 21 MPs of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) abstained from voting in the Vice-Presidential election, A V Swamy, the BJD-supported Independent Rajya Sabha member, cast his vote.
Swamy told this paper that he cast his vote as he is an Independent. “Though supported by the BJD, no other political party had opposed my candidature in the Rajya Sabha poll,” Swamy said, adding that Presidential and Vice-Presidential polls are not fought on party lines.
The Independent Rajya Sabha member also did not hide his preference in the Vice-Presidential poll. “I supported BJD candidate P A Sangma in the Presidential election as I thought that a tribal should occupy the highest office in the country,” Swamy said and added that a person from the minority community should be the Vice-President of India.
Swamy’s decision to cast his vote for UPA candidate Hamid Ansari has created ripples in the BJD. Senior leaders of the party, however, maintained that no action can be taken against him as he is an Independent.
But BJD’s Rajya Sabha member Sashi Bhusan Behera said as an Independent sponsored by the BJD, Swamy should have abstained from voting as per the party’s decision.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had on Sunday announced the BJD’s decision to abstain from the Vice-Presidential poll after consultations with senior leaders.
“After consultation with Members of Parliament and senior leaders, the party has decided to abstain from voting in the Vice-Presidential election,” Naveen had said.
Suspended Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra, however, said an Independent MP is not obliged to obey the decision of any political party. Mohapatra also questioned Naveen’s decision on the BJD abstaining from the Vice-Presidential election. Mohapatra said such a decision should have been ratified either by the State executive of the party or its Political Affairs Committee (PAC). The State executive of the BJD has not met for the last two and a half years, though it should meet every six months, he said.
Besides, Naveen has not nominated the members for the PAC, though the ex officio members are there. The party president, the leaders of the party in the Assembly, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are ex officio members of the PAC of the BJD.
The truncated members of the PAC can also meet and ratify the decision, but it has not been done, he said.