In a development that might add to the worries of the opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh, about 16 of its legislators are likely to have cross-voted in favour of NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu, in the presidential elections.
A visibly happy Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan extended gratitude to the non-BJP MLAs who voted for Murmu over a video on Twitter, though he did not mention any numbers.
According to sources, Murmu polled 146 out of the 225 valid votes cast in Madhya Pradesh. MP, with 230 MLAS, had reported 100 per cent voting in the presidential polls. Sources said five votes were found invalid.
BJP officially has 127 MLAs in the state and thus 146 votes to Murmu means 19 cross-votes. However, the recent defection of one each Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and independent MLAs had taken BJP’s support tally to 130. Apart from this, Congress MLA from Barwaha in Khargone, Sachin Birla had already crossed over to BJP last year—his disqualification plea is pending— and he is sure to have voted for Murmu as also the three other independents and the remaining one BSP MLA.
Even with this calculation, the NDA candidate should have got only 135 votes out of the total 230. However, the fact that 146 out of 225 valid votes went to Murmu (which means only 79 went to UPA’s Yashwant Sinha) suggests that 16 Congress MLAs apart from Sachin Birla are likely to have cross-voted. The Congress has 96 MLAs in the state, including Birla.
The fact that Madhya Pradesh has the highest tribal population and the assembly has 47 tribal MLAs of both Congress (31) and BJP (16), might have played as a factor in favour of the NDA candidate who is from a tribal community, sources said.
The development assumes importance especially as Madhya Pradesh’s assembly polls are scheduled about 15 months from now in 2023 and tribal factor plays a major role in the politics here. Congress had won majority tribal MLAs in the 2018 assembly polls and it was a major contributory factor for its wafer thin win.
Since the presidential polls are through a secret ballot, it will be difficult for the Congress to identify the MLAs who might have cross-voted. There was no reaction available from the Congress on the issue. But CM Chouhan was vocal.
“Droupadi Murmu ji has received additional votes from Madhya Pradesh for president’s post. I extend heartfelt gratitude to the MLA friends from other parties, who voted for Droupadi Murmu ji, listening to the voice of their conscience,” Chouhan said in a video message on Twitter.
In other tweets, he also congratulated Murmu for winning the presidential polls. “In your patronage, public welfare and development will get momentum and India will establish a new identity on the global arena,” the CM tweeted.