‘NDA presidential nominee may get votes more than expected from Meghalaya’

Shillong, July 08: NDA’s nominee, Ram Nath Kovind is likely to get votes more than expected from Meghalaya, thanks to the Election Commission for directing political parties not to issue whip for their MPs and MLAs in the upcoming Presidential election.
The Election Commission had said that political parties which issue directions to their members to vote in a particular manner in presidential election can face penal action. It, however, said parties are free to canvas or seek votes of the electors for any candidate or request them or appeal to them to refrain from voting.
Since there is no whip, and the vote in the presidential poll is through a secret ballot, voters are free to decide on whether they want to cast their vote or not.
“Since parties cannot issue whip, MLAs and MPs can cast their vote in favour of a candidate of their choice without obeying the decision of their respective parties,” a senior Congress leader in Meghalaya said on Saturday.
When asked if the UPA presidential nominee, Meira Kumar might get maximum votes from Meghalaya, the Congress leader said, “there is no guarantee that all Congress MLAs would vote for her, since the party cannot issue whip to the MLAs and MPs. The NDA nominee might also get votes more than expected from here.”
In the 60-member Assembly, Kovind is sure to get votes from 2 MLAs of the National People’s Party (NPP). The BJP has no member in the Assembly at present.
However sources said that Kovind might get votes from the UDP which has eight MLAs, besides NCP, as well as votes from a section of Congress MLAs and Independents.
Going by the number of Congress MLAs, Meira should get maximum votes from Meghalaya compared to Kovind. The Congress has 30 MLAs including Assembly Speaker, A.T. Mondal.
As many as 12 Independents are supporting the Congress-led government.
“But in the absence of party whip, cross-voting can be expected,” a political observer said.
The HSPDP which has 4 MLAs, has decided to abstain from voting in protest against the candidature of both Kovind and Meira.
According to the HSPDP, Kovind has taken an anti-minority stand as he termed Islam and Christianity “alien to the nation” and opposed reservation in government jobs for backward sections of the religious minorities in the country. The HSPDP also said that Meira’s candidature cannot be supported as her party, the Congress, has failed despite governing the country for several decades.
The total strength of the electoral college which votes to elect the President comprises all elected MPs and members of legislative assemblies of all states and Union Territories of Delhi and Puducherry.

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