Cross voting rampant in RS polls; BJP wins 9, Cong 3 and SP 2

Rampant cross voting by legislators was witnessed for polls to 15 Rajya Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday. It was not just the regional parties, but legislators like Samajwadi Party of UP, and Congress voted for the BJP candidates in different States.

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The results of Himachal Pradesh turned out to be cliffhanger as Congress candidate and Supreme Court senior lawyer Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi lost the polls in a tie to BJP’s Harsh Mahajan, owing to cross voting by former party MLAs and independent legislators’ backing.

All 68 members voted during the polling that began at 9 am on Tuesday. Mahajan, a former Congress MLA, and Singhvi managed 34 votes each. As per reports, 6 Congress MLAs cross voted as well as 3 independents backed BJP’s Mahajan who won on a unique draw of lots to break a tie in the result.

Dr Singhvi congratulated Mahajan and told reporters in Shimla, “I want to say one thing to his party. Look into yourself. If we believe that people can change after just a dinner, then we live in a fool’s paradise.”

That MLAs cross-voted was indicated by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu himself as he said, “We have 40 MLAs in the State assembly, and unless MLAs are bought off, we will get all the votes”. Leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur said the results showed that Congress has lost the majority in the assembly and the party will decide its future course of action.

It was just the opposite in Karnataka where BJP MLAs either voted for the Congress candidates or abstained, ignoring ideological and party allegiance ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

The results for four seats from Karnataka was announced, with all three Congress candidates Ajay Maken, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain and GC Chandrashekhar winning with 47, 46 and 46 votes, respectively. While BJP candidate Narayana Bandage defeated Kupendra Reddy who was banking on votes from BJP as well as its ally JD(S) to romp home.

Reports coming from Karnataka stated that BJP MLA S T Somashekar exercised his franchise for Congress candidate Ajay Maken and his colleague in the assembly Arbail Shivaram Hebbar abstained from voting in the Rajya Sabha polls, lending advantage to the State’s ruling party.

After voting, Somashekar, who represents Yashwantpur assembly seat, told reporters, “I went by my conscience and voted for those who worked for building schools and carrying out development works in my constituency”. Somashekar and Hebbar, the MLA from Yellapur constituency, have been keeping a distance from the BJP of late.

“We have got the information that Somashekar has done cross-voting. I believe that people do not like cheating every now and then,” the Leader of Opposition R Ashoka told reporters in Bengaluru. “I consulted with advocate Vivek Reddy who is our state legal cell president and a high court lawyer. We will ask the Speaker to initiate action against him (Somashekar) and explore the possibilities to take steps in accordance with the law,” the former deputy chief minister said.

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In UP, BJP bagged 7 of the 10 Rajya Sabha seats. Counting was continuing for one seat while SP won the remaining 2 seats for House of Elders. Seven SP MLAs, one MLA of SBSP and one member of the Bahujan Samaj Party, voted for the BJP.

The BJP leaders stated that they have the numbers to win seven of the 10 seats but they fielded eight candidates to have a contest on one seat due to votes from the Rashtriya Lok Dal which recently joined the NDA, and the cross-voting from SP rebels.

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