Kolkata, July 20 (IANS) Reports of cross-voting in the presidential polls surfaced in West Bengal after NDA’s winning candidate Ram Nath Govind secured five votes more than the total strength of BJP and its allies in the state assembly.
Ten votes of state lawmakers were also cancelled, the highest number in any state.
As per the arithmetic in the 294-member assembly, National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s Kovind was expected to get six votes — three of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and three of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) MLAs.
However, the vote count showed Kovind bagging 11 votes, in a clear indication that the additional votes came from the ranks of the Trinamool Congress, Congress and the Left Front MLAs.
But, with the presidential polls being held through secret ballot, there was no chance of knowing which MLAs belonging to which party had cross-voted.
As per rules, no whip can be issued in the presidential polls.
The cancellation of 10 votes also has come as a major embarrassment for the non-BJP parties, as otherwise these votes would have gone to opposition candidate Meira Kumar.
The ruling Trinamool, however, said that all its 211 legislators had voted for Kumar, as per party chief Mamata Banerjee’s directive.
“I can’t talk about other political parties but none of our MLAs voted for the NDA nominee. Our Chief Minister and party chief Mamata Banerjee asked all of us to back Meira Kumarji. We have all followed her directive,” said Trinamool Secretary General Partha Chatterjee.
A Left leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, alleged that the Trinamool MLAs cross-voted as they were in league with the BJP and were only biding their time to join the saffron outfit.
Congress spokesperson Om Prakash Mishra also pointed finger at the Trinamool lawmakers, arguing that those facing the heat in CBI investigation into multiple scams “were in secret understanding with the BJP”.
Mishra said: “Not only has there been cross-voting, but West Bengal has also topped in terms of invalid votes. So while Meira Kumar should have secured 288 votes, she has got only 273.”
“This is the handiwork of people who are in secret understanding with the BJP. This in all probability is a result of the CBI investigation into multiple scams involving the ruling party.”