By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 23 Jul: Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) Chief Karan Mahra today declared that action would be taken against the Congress MLAs who had cross voted in favour of NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu in the recently concluded Presidential elections. It is reported that at least 2 Congress MLAs had voted in favour of NDA candidate Murmu instead of voting in favour of Yashwant Sinha who had been put up as a joint candidate by the Opposition parties. Of course, the Congress could not even field its own candidate in the elections despite being the largest opposition party in the country. Political analysts claim that despite such a warning of action by the PCC Chief Karan Mahra, it would not be easy for the party to first of all identify who had voted against the party’s wish since the vote was cast through secret ballot. Even if the party is able to identify the “black sheep”, it would not be easy to take any action against them. As per the constitutional provisions, no party whip is enforceable or applicable in the Presidential elections and the electors are free to exercise their franchise as per their conscience. One Congress MLA is reported to have directly voted in favour of Murmu while another cast an invalid vote, probably deliberately. Two other Congress MLAs did not turn up to cast their votes, While Tilak Raj Behad could not attend due to sickness, it is not known for what reason, Rajendra Singh Bhandari failed to turn up to cast his vote.
Congress has 19 MLAs in Uttarakhand while BJP has 47 MLAs, while BSP has two and two are independents. The Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha managed only 15 out of at least 19 that he should have got if all Congress MLAs had cast their votes and in his favour. Even in absence of Behad and Bhandari, Sinha should have got 17 votes but he got only 15. The State Congress is not happy with the Party MLAs but despite the warnings, it does not appear to be in a position to take any action against the errant MLAs. Even in case, the party is able to identify the black sheep and expel them from the party, they would continue to remain MLAs since the party whip is not enforceable in Presidential election and they can’t be disqualified for voting against the party line in this regard.