AAP MLA H S Phoolka was the only legislator in the 117-member Punjab Assembly who did not to cast his vote for the Presidential election on Monday. The election exercise in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha was marred by controversy as Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains allegedly “tried to reveal” his marked ballot paper to legislators as well as Assistant Returning Officer (ARO), while getting it signed and stamped from her.
In another episode, former Punjab Finance Minister and Akali leader Parminder Singh Dhinda demanded a duplicate ballot paper stating that he had accidentally marked his vote against the name of the wrong candidate. After being denied a duplicate ballot paper, he marked both the candidates, said sources. His vote is likely to be cancelled.
Bains, an AAP ally, had taken a different stand from AAP by announcing his support for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind. AAP had announced support for UPA candidate Meira Kumar, but Bains had stated that he did not want to support Congress in any way.
After Bains marked his ballot paper and walked towards ARO Shashi Mishra Lakhanpal, Congress polling agent Navtej Cheema alleged that Bains had exposed his vote. Following his complaint, the ARO reviewed the footage from the CCTV camera.
Bains told The Indian Express that his vote was cancelled as he had complained against Mishra in a case of dowry. However, Returning Officer-and-Chief Election Officer Punjab, V K Singh, told The Indian Express that Bains’s vote was not cancelled.
It appears to be advantage Meira Kumar in Punjab as Congress has 77 MLAs. All of them, including Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, cast their votes. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had also announced party’s support for Meira Kumar. AAP has 20 MLAs in Punjab and 19 cast their vote on Monday. Phoolka had made it clear that he would not vote for Congress-backed candidate as some party leaders are accused of being involved in 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Phoolka, who abstained from voting, was not accessible throughout the day.
While Bains and his elder brother and another LIP MLA, Balwinder Singh Bains, had announced their support for Kovind, SAD-BJP had 18 MLAs(SAD – 15, BJP – 3). As per the area and population count, each MLA in Punjab is worth 116 votes. Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was also among those voted. He was allowed to break the queue by the legislators cutting across party lines, who were waiting in queue.