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December 4, 2020

The Chhattisgarh

Beyond The Region

Eye on bypolls, BJP skips action against cross-voting MLA

Two days after a BJP legislator allegedly voted for Congress candidate Digvijiya Singh in the Rajya Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh, the ruling party has not even served a showcause notice to Guna MLA Gopilal Jatav.

The four-time Dalit MLA allegedly voted for Singh despite the party whip to vote for Jyotiraditya Scindia in the election to the Upper House on Friday.

The decision to not act against Jatav seems to be dictated by the upcoming bypolls to 24 seats. The Dalit community has substantial votes in the Gwalior-Chambal region where most of these seats area.

On the day of voting, Jatav claimed that he had voted for Scindia but BJP leaders said he voted for Singh. Before casting the vote, MLAs have to show the ballot to authorised leaders present in the voting area. When The Indian Express contacted him on Sunday, Jatav refused to comment.

Jatav’s vote did not make any difference to the results, because the BJP had sufficient numbers to win two seats. But it left the ruling party red-faced, more so because three national-level leaders of the party, including Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, were in Bhopal. BJP leaders tried to downplay the matter, claiming it was a human error.

A candidate required 52 first preference votes to win. The BJP has 107 MLAs. Two BSP MLAs, one SP legislator and three of the four Independents had also assured support to the ruling party candidates. While Scindia got 56 votes, the other BJP candidate Sumer Solanki got 55. While Jatav allegedly voted for Singh, the vote of one BJP MLA was declared invalid.

“We are not even considering the issue now,’’ said a BJP leader. Given that it’s well short of majority in the 230-member House, the BJP is not keen on acting against Jatav. Even in the Assembly session in July 2019, the BJP, then in the Opposition, had not acted against two members who voted with the ruling party on a Bill. The party had then claimed that it had not issued a whip. In Rajya Sabha elections, however, the party had issued one.

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