Even if MLAs cross vote they cannot be disqualified

Amidst reports that at least seven of the 29 MLAs belonging to the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), led by actor-politician Vijayakant, might cross vote in favour of the AIADMK-backed nominees in the June 29 poll for Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu, Election Commission sources said even if they do so the action would not attract disqualification under the 10 Schedule of the Constitution of India (Article 102 (2) and 191 (2).

“As such, political parties cannot issue any whip, like they do in the Legislative Assembly, asking their MLAs to vote for a particular candidate. They can issue instructions but it is left to political organisations to take action as they deem fit if an MLA defies the party‘s order,” said a senior official of the EC.

He told The Hindu on Monday that whatever action a party takes against its MLAs outside the House would not be binding on their functioning inside the House.

If MLAs are expelled from the party and a letter is given in this regard to the Speaker, they could only be declared unattached members. However, their membership in the Assembly could not be taken away.

The official also made it clear that irrespective of whether the MLAs give second preference or other preferences of votes while exercising their franchise in the election, if they failed to mark their first preference then their vote would get rejected. Likewise, candidates who get the lowest number of votes while counting the first preference votes would be eliminated before taking up counting of votes of second preferences and so on.

Sources said the Commission was keeping an eye on the goings on in Tamil Nadu with regard to the Rajya Sabha poll, scheduled for June 29. So far, they had not received any complaint of horse trading like it was reported in Jharkhand last year. It is learnt that the election expenditure monitoring wing had been activated.

On Tuesday, nominations will be taken up for scrutiny. Wednesday is the last date for withdrawal of the candidature. So far, eight candidates, including five from the AIADMK, and one each from the CPI, DMK and the DMDK, have filed their papers for the six seats.

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