Sequestered MLAs being ‘trained’ on how to vote without getting disqualified

Bharatiya Janata Party State president Satish Punia. File

Bharatiya Janata Party State president Satish Punia. File | Photo Credit: Rohit Jain Paras

Congress MLAs from Rajasthan and Haryana, BJP MLAs from Rajasthan, and Shiv Sena MLAs in Mumbai are being sequestered in resorts ahead of the June 10 polling for Rajya Sabha seats to prevent any poaching from the other side, as elections for seats in at least four States — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Haryana — will go down to the wire. What is equally interesting is that MLAs are also being "trained" on how to vote in these polls without getting disqualified.

What is this "training" all about and how is voting in Rajya Sabha polls distinct from regular polling?

One of the most interesting innovations in Rajya Sabha polling comes from an incident that happened as late as 2016, when during a close fought contest in Haryana, a "rebellion" by Congress MLAs helped independent candidate, media baron Subhash Chandra (coincidentally in the poll fray from Rajasthan, this time), win. Indian National Lok Dal candidate, R. K. Anand, lost. Votes of at least 12 Congress MLAs were deemed invalid as they had been marked with pens not authorised for voting.

A furore broke out as the Congress and INLD demanded that the polls be countermanded. Following this controversy, the Election Commission made it mandatory for all voters to use only the pen provided by the polling officials, a special pen with violet ink, and any other colour ink used on the ballot will be deemed as an invalid vote.

The other thing that parties are anxious to tell their MLAs while voting in the Rajya Sabha polls is the question of showing your vote before casting. In the same Rajya Sabha poll in Haryana, current AICC general secretary Randeep Surjewala's vote was deemed invalid as he showed his marked ballot to Kiran Chowdhary. The Rajya Sabha has a system of a limited kind of open ballot. To subvert attempts at cross voting, defying of the party whip, each MLA has to show his/her marked ballot to the party's authorised agent before putting the vote into the ballot box. Showing your marked ballot to anyone other than the authorised agent would make the vote invalid. Not showing the marked ballot to the said agent would also invalidate the vote.

Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia said that such a training was being imparted to party MLAs as many of them are first timers.

As of now, 41 candidates in the fray have been declared elected unopposed and 16 seats in four States are set to see actual voting on June 10.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2022 9:34:52 pm |