Cross-voting by Congress rebel Kuldeep Bishnoi, rejection of one Congress vote and an independent MLA’s absence from polling resulted in Congress nominee Ajay Maken’s defeat in the high-stakes three-cornered contest for two seats of Rajya Sabha from Haryana.
BJP’s Krishan Panwar and BJP-JJP backed media baron Kartikeya Sharma made it to the Rajya Sabha.
After 17-hour long dramatic turn of events, amid allegations of breach of secrecy of ballot paper, objections being raised seeking disqualification of two Congress votes and then eventually the intervention of Chief Election Commission marred the polling. The result was declared in the wee hours, as the counting of votes that was supposed to commence at 5 pm yesterday could only begin post midnight.
According to the details shared by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, while one Congress vote was rejected, Kuldeep Bishnoi (Congress MLA from Adampur) “voted as per his inner conscience” and “did not vote for Congress nominee Ajay Maken”. “All the Congress MLAs cast their vote by showing it to their election agent. I am sure Kuldeep Bishnoi also must have done that. Yet, it is welcome that he supported our candidate and voted listening to his inner conscience. He has shown his faith in the principles and policies of the BJP. He did not even think what his party is going to do with him after this, but he cast his vote after listening to his heart and mind. We welcome him”, Khattar said on Bishnoi.
Regarding Congress’ rejected vote, Khattar said, “It is for the Congress to tell us all. I am not yet aware whose vote was rejected”.
Replying to media’s queries on the kind of training that Congress imparted to its MLAs by keeping them at a five-star resort in Raipur from June 2 till June 9; Khattar said, “This shows the kind of training that they gave to their MLAs for over seven days and yet failed. We, too, gave training to our MLAs for one day and we passed. It is our one day versus their seven days”.
Explaining the mathematics of counting, Khattar said, “Out of total 90 MLAs, one Independent MLA abstained, while one Congress vote was rejected. That left with total 88 votes. According to the rule, any two who could make it above the mark of one-third of 88 would have won. Congress got 29, while Kartikeya Sharma got 29.65 votes. He got 23 and Krishan Panwar’s 6.65 votes were transferred to Kartikeya Sharma making him victorious”.
Post-midnight when the Chief Election Commission gave permission for counting of votes, at about 1.30 am, Congress began celebrating but when they were told that their candidate Ajay Maken had lost, they demanded recounting.
“Although, Congress did not demand a recounting in writing, but yet the officials of Election Commission were gracious enough to accept their demand. As such, counting 88 votes would not have taken much time. The recounting was done and Kartikeya Sharma won while Ajay Maken lost”, Khattar added.
Congress had been fearing cross-voting and horse-trading since beginning. That was the reason it had asked all its MLAs to be together and took them to a private resort in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. Kuldeep Bishnoi, however, did not go.
Ever since the HAryana Pradesh Congress Committee was revamped and Kuldeep Bishnoi was not considered for the post of president, he had been sulking. He also sought time to meet Rahul Gandhi that was not given.
Despite several senior leaders of the party trying to pacify and placate Kuldeep Bishnoi, he stayed away from all the Congress events including party’s much-hyped Chintan Shivir and had announced that he and all his supporters would not participate in any Congress event till Rahul Gandhi meets him. Hours later after the result, Congress nominee Ajay Maken said, “I thank Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Deepender Hooda for preparations and management of the Rajya Sabha polls. If we look at the results, we were ahead of independent candidate in terms of first-preference votes. Their one vote should have been cancelled, but unfortunately our one vote was cancelled. We are exploring legal modalities. We have time to challenge this result in the court of law”.
He added, “I would like to thank all the MLAs who did not succumb to any allurement or fear and supported Congress party”.
Taking a dig at BJP-JJP, Maken said, “It was evident that they wanted to influence the elections’ result by adopting one or another method to delay it. Government machinery was misused. MLAs were pressurised using ED and Income Tax departments. Yet, MLAs remained firm”. On cross-voting by Kuldeep Bishnoi, Maken said, “He [Kuldeep Bishnoi] had contested and won on a Congress ticket. Under what pressure or in what allurement he did not for Congress, he knows it better. People of Haryana will never forgive him for this”.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda, added, “Whatever action has to be taken, shall be taken by the party high command”.
Deepender Hooda added, “It is democracy. We shall fight the legal battle. The government’s intentions were not clear from the very beginning. They tried to reject our two votes. But, Returning Officer’s statement and video-footage were two major proofs. Even Chief Election Commission could not ignore such facts”.