Updated: June 3, 2022 2:03:03 am
Wary of the possibility of cross-voting during the polling for two Rajya Sabha seats, the Congress Thursday took its Haryana MLAs to a private resort in the party-ruled Chhattisgarh. The MLAs were taken to Raipur in a chartered flight from Delhi where they had assembled at the residence of party MP Deepender Hooda following a call from the party high command.
Out of total 31 MLAs, three, including a sulking Kudeep Bishnoi, did not reach Delhi. The other two who were absent include Kiran Choudhry and Chiranjeev Rao. “Kiran Choudhry is unwell but will be joining the others soon. Chiranjeev Rao is celebrating his birthday with his family and he too will reach Raipur. Bishnoi too will join,” said a senior party leader.
Bishnoi has continued to maintain distance from all party events ever since he was not considered for the state party chief, a post that eventually went to Udai Bhan, a loyalist of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Bishnoi was also not considered for Rajya Sabha.
The entry of Kartikeya Sharma, son of expelled party leader Venod Sharma, as an Independent candidate running for the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls has queered the pitch for Congress, which has nominated AICC general secretary Ajay Maken for one of the two seats. BJP has nominated its former transport minister and a five-time MLA Krishan Panwar, while Sharma is being supported by BJP’s alliance partner Jannayak Janata Party. .
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In the 90-member Haryana Assembly, the BJP has 40 MLAs while the Congress has 31. The JJP has 10 legislators while the Indian National Lok Dal and Haryana Lokhit Party one each. There seven Independents.
The BJP needs support of 31 MLAs to ensure that Panwar reaches the Upper House of the Parliament. For for the second seat, the candidate needs 30 votes. The Congress has 31 MLAs — enough on paper for ensuring victory to its candidate.
Sharma’s father Venod Sharma, although expelled from Congress in 2014, still has strong ties with several party leaders in Haryana.
As Congress moved its flock to Raipur, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said, “Khel ki bhawna mein sab kaam ho jaata hai (all issues can be sorted in sportsman spirit)”.
Party sources told The Indian Express that Deepender Hooda has been assigned responsibility to keep all the MLAs together. Deepender, however, said, that the “MLAs were going to Raipur for a training workshop”.
The legislators will stay at the resort and reach Chandigarh on June 10, the polling day, to cast their vote.
Earlier, the MLAs reaching Deepender’s residence at New Delhi in the morning. AICC general secretary KC Venugopal first held a brief meeting with them. Later, party affairs in-charge Vivek Bansal too held a meeting with theem after which they were taken in a bus to the airport from where they took a chartered flight to Raipur.
HPCC president, Udai Bhan said, “The real stand of the MLAs shall become clear in the Rajya Sabha poll. Those who had sought votes from people of the state against BJP-JJP should definitely vote against their nominee. Legislators such as INLD’s Abhay Chautala and Balraj Kundu (Independent) are the ones whom people are closely watching. All those MLAs who will vote for the BJP-JJP supported nominee [Kartikeya Sharma] will be taught a lesson by people of Haryana”.
Bhan said that he has appealed to all the Congress MLAs to support and vote for Maken. “Future of the MLAs will also depend on this election,” he added.
Taking a dig at Congress’ move of taking its MLAs out of Haryana, JJP’s national convener Ajay Chautala said, “If Congress is so confident about its numbers, they why is it taking its MLAs out of the state and keeping them hostage? The day when Kartikeya Sharma filed nomination papers, JJP supported him openly. That day only, Congress had lost this battle”.
The number game
All 10 JJP MLAs have announced support to Kartikeya Sharma. If BJP spares its nine MLAs, he gets 19. If the seven Independent MLAs, who had been extending support to the BJP, and Haryana Lokhit Party’s Gopal Kanda also supports him, the tally reaches 27, bring him close to the magic mark of 30. If Congress fails to pacify Kuldeep Bishnoi and he votes for Kartikeya, the latter would require only two Congress MLAs to cross-vote to sail through. There is a possibility that BJP may fully support Kartikeya to push Congress nominee out of the race.
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