All 232 MLAs, Barring two, on Wednesday cast votes in the by-poll to fill up two Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar amidst reports of cross-voting by members of prominent political parties.
“A total of 230 MLAs have cast votes in the RS bypoll which ended at 4 pm,” Secretary, Legislative Assembly, Hareram Mukhiya told PTI.
The two MLAs who did not vote included BJP’s Rameshwar Chaurasia who has gone to the US and RJD’s Kedar Singh, absconding in a criminal case.
The effective strength of Bihar Assembly at present is 232 following 11 vacancies.
Counting will start at 5 pm and results are expected two hours after that, Mukhiya said.
Though pattern of voting by members of different political parties would be known only after the result is out, there has been reports of MLAs of prominent parties including JD(U), RJD and Congress cross voting in violation of party lines.
On the directions of the Election Commission, no parties issued whip in the bypoll for the two RS seats in Bihar.
JD(U) dissidents group leader Gyanendra Singh Gyanu told reporters after the voting that 22 party MLAs have voted against official candidates.
JD(U) has fielded diplomat-politician Pawan Varma and Gulam Rasool Balyawi for the two seats. They are challenged by real estate baron Anil Sharma and Sabir Ali. Both have entered into fray as Independents backed by rebels and BJP.
Gyanu claimed before reporters that minister Sahid Ali Khan has voted for Anil Sharma but not for another Independent Sabir Ali.
Sources in RJD and Congress indicated two MLAs each of them voted against party lines.
While from RJD names of Anirugh Yadav and Durga Prasad are doing the rounds for cross-voting from Congress camp they were Asfaq Alam and Tauseef Alam.
There was no report of any BJP MLA voting against party decision.
116 JD(U) MLAs cast votes. Speaker Udai Narayan Chaudhary did not vote.
In the 232-member Bihar Assembly at present, JD(U) has 117 members including Speaker, BJP 84, RJD 21, Congress 4, Independents 5 and CPI 1.
Independent candidate Sabir Ali came out heavily against RJD President Lalu Prasad accusing him of “ditching” him (Ali) by joining hands with former chief minister Nitish Kumar at the last moment.
“Lalu Prasad had asked me to contest bypoll for RS seat…he used to call me 20 times a day to coax me to enter into fray against the JD(U) candidates,” Ali, who was expelled by JD(U), told reporters.
Leader of the JD(U) dissidents camp Gyanu also claimed Lalu Prasad had a hand in fielding Sabir Ali and not BJP.
Women members Manju Devi of JD(U) and Bhagirathi Devi of BJP had acrimonious exchange while standing in queue to cast votes.
RJD and Congress members were seen sitting with JD(U) reflecting solidarity.
Bogged by dissidence by a sizable section of party MLAs, Nitish Kumar’s party received a boost on Tuesday when Lalu Prasad announced RJD support for JD(U)’s official candidates to strengthen secular forces.
RJD’s 21 MLAs hold key to the result.
Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi,who cast his votes in the early hours of voting, claimed that the result of the bypoll would not have any impact on the health of his government.
Three RS seats fell vacant in Bihar after victory of Ramvilas Paswan, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ramkripal Yadav in Lok Sabha election.
Earlier, out of the three seats, JD(U) President Sharad Yadav had won unopposed on the one seat vacated by Paswan. For the remaining two, voting took place on Wednesday.