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Presidential elections: Punjab, Haryana may witness cross voting by AAP, Congress MLAs

17 July, 2017 11:18 AM
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Presidential elections: Punjab, Haryana may witness cross voting by AAP, Congress MLAs

AAP MLAs are divided on the issue of voting for presidential elections even the party leadership is learnt to have conveyed to its law makers to vote for the Opposition candidate Meira Kumar.

Cross-voting in presidential elections, currently underway both in Punjab and Haryana, may play a spoilsport thanks to the factionalism in Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

AAP MLAs are divided on the issue of voting for presidential elections even the party leadership is learnt to have conveyed to its lawmakers to vote for the Opposition candidate Meira Kumar.

Two rival Aam Aadmi Party factions led by former leader of opposition HS Phoolka and chief of whip Sukhpal Singh Khaira have announced support for both Meira Kumar and NDA's nominee Ram Nath Kovind.

Phoolka has categorically said that he will not vote for Meira Kumar as she is backed by Congress. He said supporting her means betraying 1984 anti Sikh riot victims.

"I respect Meira Kumar Ji but will not vote for her as she has been backed by Congress which continues to shield perpetrators of anti-Sikh riot accused," Phoolka said.

Sources close to AAP say MLAs close to Phoolka may follow the suit as some of them are close to hardliner Sikh groups.

Meanwhile, Khaira said the party has decided to vote in favour of Meira Kumar.

"Not AAP but it is Phoolka alone who has opposed Meira Kumar's candidature. Our party is supporting her and there will be no cross voting," says Khaira.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had invited all Congress MLAs for breakfast meet so that they remained under one umbrella. But he had himself said the party was late in announcing Meira Kumar's candidature.

Congress leader and MLA Raj Kumar Verka claimed that there would be no cross voting but criticised Phoolka for not supporting Kumar. "There are no chances of cross voting. Phoolka is taking a different line for a reason best know to him. The truth is that all AAP MLAs except him will vote for Meira Kumar," Verka said.

Cross voting is also expected in neighbouring Haryana where a sizeable chunk of Congress and INLD MLAs may go against their party decisions.

The speculations were fanned by the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar himself by claiming that he had mustered support of 75 Haryana MLAs. The fact is that his party has just 47 MLAs and if we include five independents and a BSP MLA who had announced support to BJP, the number comes to 53. Then from where will Khattar manage the remaining 22 MLAs? INLD has already announced support to Ram Nath Kovind.

Interestingly, Khattar also used dinner diplomacy to woo Congress and INLD MLAs last night but none of them turned up.

There is a visible factionalism in Congress led by former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Ashok Tanwar.BJP is eyeing support of Congress MLAs. However, fearing action from the party, nobody will come openly.

Haryana is notorious for cross voting and adopting unfair means. The last Rajya Sabha elections had kicked off a controversy as some MLAs had used a wrong pen to let a particular candidate win the election. Keeping in view the pen controversy, the Election Commission has issued a new ink and pen to avoid any controversy. It has also appointed a new returning officer after the controversy.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Manohar Lal Khattar and Abhay Chautala were seen organising meetings over lunch and dinner to contain the vote bank. What remains to be seen is whether Kovind will benefit from cross voting.

Also read: Ryan school owners face arrest, Punjab and Haryana High Court rejects bail petition

Source: indiatoday.intoday.in

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