Vote cast in protest against Modi’s government’s anti-farmer policies

A rebel Bharatiya Janata Party member of the Gujarat Assembly on Thursday cast his vote in favour of UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee, ignoring his party’s support for P.A. Sangma in the Presidential elections.

The Mahuva MLA from Bhavnagar district, Kanubhai Kalsariya — who had been leading a farmers’ agitation against the Narendra Modi government’s earlier decision to allocate part of wet land for construction of a private cement company in Bhavnagar district — told journalists that he cast his vote in favour of the UPA candidate not because of his support for Mr. Mukherjee but in protest against the anti-farmer policies of the Modi government.

Though elected on BJP ticket in the 2007 Assembly elections, Mr. Kalsariya fell out with the party after the Modi administration allocated, three years ago, some land in his constituency to the Nirma group to set up a cement plant. The agitation by local farmers, led by Mr. Kalsariya, forced the Centre to withdraw environmental clearance given to the project and the Supreme Court subsequently restrained the company from setting up the plant.

Barring the former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case who has been debarred from entering Gujarat by the Supreme Court pending his bail application, all 182 members of the Assembly and four members of the Rajya Sabha, including independent MP from Jharkhand Parimal Nathwani, cast their votes.