June 12, 2016 3:01:37 am
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal suffered a scare Saturday before pulling off a victory in the Rajya Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh where 10 candidates of other major parties, including two recent returnees to Samajwadi Party-fold —- Amar Singh and Beni Prasad Verma —- also won.
For 11 vacant seats, 12 candidates were in fray. The other winners include Reoati Raman Singh, Vishambhar Prasad Nishad, Sukhram Singh Yadav, Sanjay Seth and Surendra Nagar (all SP), Satish Chandra Misra and Ashok Siddharth (both BSP) and Shiv Pratap Shukla (BJP).
BJP-backed Independent candidate Preeti Mahapatra, whose nominations had forced the contest, lost. Mahapatra, however, secured 18 first preference votes, including three from Congress, as the election saw large-scale cross-voting nearly ruining Sibal’s chance. Three more Congress MLAs from its total 29 voted for BSP. The six Congress “rebels” include party chief whip Mohd Muslim, who is a legislator from Rae Bareli.
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Sibal, despite support from five other MLAs —- two each of RLD and Quami Ekta Dal and one of Peace Party —- could get only 25 first preference votes.
Mahapatra, who also secured seven first preference votes from BJP, said she was not disappointed by the loss. “A young woman candidate, who comes from Gujarat and is married in Odisha, contested the election in UP and was able to get support from candidates of all parties. I gave a good fight and sleepless nights to many. I will keep coming here,” she said after the counting.
With Assembly elections scheduled early next year in state, some MLAs openly indulged in cross-voting to convey their alignment towards other parties where they may head in near future.
Congress’s Mohd Muslim gave his first preference vote to BSP and second to Sibal. “I have all the respect for the family (Gandhi family), but the party is deteriorating as workers like me are being neglected. I come from Rae Bareli but still find it difficult to convey my feelings (to party high command). I voted today listening to my heart,” Muslim said.
Besides Muslim, Congress MLAs Dilnawaj Khan and Nawab Kazim Ali Khan also gave their first preference votes to BSP.
Two other Congress MLAs Sanjay Pratap Jaiswal and Vijay Dubey were seen sitting with BJP members. “My own party was doubting me. So today, I decided to put speculations to rest by voting for Preeti Mahapatra,” Jaisawal told The Indian Express. He claimed that two other Congress MLAs, Vijay Bahadur and Madhuri Verma, also voted in favour of Mahapatra, but added that their reasons were best known to them.
BJP MLA from Gorakhpur, Vijay Bahadur Yadav, voted for Samajwadi Party. “I voted for a party, which can bring development to this state and my region. I voted for SP after witnessing the development works undertaken by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav,” he said.
Meanwhile, two SP MLAs, Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit and his brother Mukesh Sharma, alleged that another party legislator, Pawan Pandey, threatened and misbehaved with them during voting. Pandit alleged that some SP MLAs also tried to snatch his ballot paper. Just as they did on Friday during Legislative Council polls, the brother duo had arrived at Vidhan Sabha with BJP MLA Sangeet Som.
“Pandey misbehaved with me and was not allowing me to vote. I was able to vote only after the intervention of the officials. I will file a complaint with the election commission,” said Pandit.
BJP Sangeet Som, Krishana Paswan and Vimla Botham too alleged that “SP MLAs created hurdles for the BJP MLAs while casting votes.”
SP’s Hazi Zamerullah Khan and BJP’s Raghunandan Singh Bhadauriya entered into verbal spat after voting, making allegations and counter-allegations against each others’ parties for indulging into cross-voting.
Asked about the allegations, newly-elected RS member Amar Singh, said: “BJP kare to raasleela, baki koi kare toh unka character dheela (if BJP members do it, its good, if others do it, its bad)”.
Uttar Pradesh Parliamentary Affiars Minister Azam Khan too took a potshot at BJP. “Unse (BJP) bada gunda aur kaun hai (who is a bigger goon than them). They can show anything they want from someone’s fridge into a report,” he said in apparent reference to a forensic lab report on Dadri lynching.
Khan further said that all those who wanted to vote for others should have resigned first from their respective parties.
Asked about the “rebel” MLAs, Congress Legislature Party leader Pradeep Mathur said, “Six of our MLAs voted for other parties. While we have removed Mohd Muslim from the post of chief whip, report about others will be sent to the party.”
Earlier, responding to a query, AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry said that “all’s well that ends well”.
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