Ballot paper of Samajwadi Party chief to be removed before counting on Sunday

The Election Commission has invalidated the vote cast by Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh in the Presidential election held on Thursday.

The SP chief had first voted in favour of NDA-backed candidate P.A. Sangma, instead of UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, to whom his party had extended support. To correct his mistake, he tore the first ballot paper and got a second one.

In a communication sent to the Rajya Sabha Secretary-General and Returning Officer (RO) for the poll, V.K. Agnihotri, on Friday, the Commission said: “On the facts stated in your letter under reply, the Commission is of the opinion that the issue of second ballot paper to Shri. Singh was not warranted under Rule 15 of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules, 1974.

“Therefore, the second ballot paper issued to Shri. Singh may not be taken up for counting. It may also be added that the first ballot paper issued to Shri. Singh cannot be counted as the secrecy of ballot was violated.”

The EC’s direction followed a letter written by Mr. Agnihotri to the Commission, along with a copy of the complaint given by Satya Pal Jain, counsel-representative for Mr. Sangma to him, on the issue.

The RO wanted the Commission’s “considered opinion” on the issue as he had given the second ballot paper to Mr. Singh after the latter claimed that the first ballot paper had been torn.

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