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Updated: July 20, 2012 03:10 IST

When political differences took a back seat

Shiv Sahay Singh
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee waits to cast her vote in Presidential election in the West Bengal Assembly in Kolkata on Thursday.
— Photo: PTI West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee waits to cast her vote in Presidential election in the West Bengal Assembly in Kolkata on Thursday.

 In a rare instance, MLAs and MPs of West Bengal, setting aside their differences, voted in the presidential election at the Assembly here on Thursday.

 Those who cast their votes represented the parties that decided to support United Progressive Alliance nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

 Trinamool Congress chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who announced her party’s support to Mr. Mukherjee just two days ago, joined the queue of legislators of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Forward Bloc and the Congress to vote.

 She flashed the victory sign and so did Surya Kanta Mishra, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

 Members of the Trinamool, the CPI(M) and the Congress were seen conversing freely during the day.

 Those scheduled to cast their vote from the State comprised 294 members of the Assembly and 27 MPs of the Trinamool. Totally, 308 members – 282 MLAs and 26 MPs – cast their votes in the Assembly.

 MPs of the Congress, the CPI(M) and the Forward Bloc had decided to cast their vote in Parliament.

 Seven legislators of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and two from the Communist Party of India as well one from the Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist (SUCI) abstained from voting.

 J. L. Chakraborty, presiding officer for the election, said the value of a vote of an MLA was 151 and that of an MP 708.

 He said two Trinamool MLAs, Bhusan Doloi and Omar Ali, along with party MP Kabir Suman, did not vote.

 While Mr. Suman claimed that he chose not to vote fearing harassment by his party colleagues, the two MLAs could not make it to the Assembly because of illness.  Mr. Chakraborty said the ballot box would be taken to New Delhi on Friday.

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