Rajya Sabha polls: COVID-19 infected MLA votes wearing PPE suit in MP

A Congress legislator came to the state assembly complex in an ambulance and was the last one to cast his ballot wearing a PPE suit

Rajya Sabha, Rajya Sabha polls, Madhya Pradesh, BJP, Congress, coronavirus, COVID-19
Congress MLA Kunal Choudhary wearing a PPE kit, who has tested positive with coronavirus, casts his vote for Rajya Sabha election, at State Assembly in Bhopal. Photo: PTI

The novel coronavirus which has claimed more than 12,000 lives across the country could not stop 206 MLAs to cast their votes for the three vacant Rajya Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh.

The voting which concluded on Friday (June 19) afternoon, also included the vote of Congress legislator Kunal Choudhary, who recently tested COVID-19 positive. He came to the assembly complex in an ambulance and was the last one to cast his ballot wearing a PPE suit, an official said.

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“I reached Vidhan Sabha around 12.45 pm in an ambulance, with full precaution wearing a PPE kit, the officials were also wearing PPE kit, though I felt they were a bit scared, which is natural. I voted for my party candidate and came back,” the MLA, who tested positive on June 12 told NDTV.

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Questioning how the Election Commission could allow a person infected with the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus to come out and vote, BJP leader Hitesh Bajpai tweeted, “The permission of the Corona positive MLA to enter the premises by the Election Commission is a violation of epidemic control rules.”

“People who can’t even win Panchayat elections are questioning me, they should ask the question from their party leaders who are running the government,” responded the Congress MLA.

The voting, which began at 9 am in the state assembly in Bhopal and ended at around 1:15 pm, saw both the parties — the BJP and the Congress — fielding two candidates each for the three seats of the Upper House of Parliament.

While the BJP fielded senior leader and former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and former professor of a government college, Sumer Singh Solanki, from the Congress side, veteran politician Digvijaya Singh and Dalit leader Phool Singh Baraiya were in the fray.

BJP members, including state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, cast their votes in the morning.

Former chief minister Kamal Nath and other Congress leaders also cast their ballots soon after the process began.

Related news: BJP, Congress in MP, Rajasthan set for Rajya Sabha polls on June 19

Chouhan was the first member to cast vote, followed by the Home Minister Narottam Mishra.

The members were seen wearing masks and standing in a queue maintaining social distance in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

To win a seat in the Rajya Sabha polls from Madhya Pradesh, a candidate needs 52 votes. As per the numerical strength of the two parties, BJP is set to win two seats as it has 107 MLAs of its own and has the support of two MLAs of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), one MLA of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and two Independents, party sources said.

The saffron party has the support of 112 in the 230 member Assembly whose effective strength is 206. Scindia and Solanki, thus, can get the 52 votes each needed for victory.

Leaders of the BSP and the SP said they voted in favour of the BJP.

Talking to reporters after the polls, SP’s Rajesh Shukla said, “It is our compulsion to go with the government. I have voted for the BJP on my own for the development of the area. There was no directive from the party leadership on the issue.”

BSP’s Sanjeev Kushwaha said, “The Congress government collapsed not because of us, but due to its internal differences. There was no directive from the party for us. Therefore, we voted for the BJP on our own for the development of our region. The BSP will contest the upcoming by-polls on all the seats.”

In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly, 24 seats are currently vacant.

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Congress has been left with 92 MLAs after 22 of its legislators, including six who were ministers then, quit the party in support of Scindias move to join the BJP.

Thus, Congress is set to win a single seat out of the total three for which polls are being held, sources added.

The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) had asked 54 of its 92 MLAs to cast their first preference vote for Digvijaya Singh.

The former chief minister needs 52 votes to get elected to Rajya Sabha for the second consecutive term.

Baraiya, placed after Singh in the pecking order by his party, does not have the numbers on his side to win.

The Upper House elections are being held on four seats each from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, three each from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, two from Jharkhand and one each from Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram.

The counting of votes will begin at 5 pm.

Related news: After Op Rang Panchami, power struggle erupts in MP BJP unit

(With inputs from agencies)

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