Presidential poll: Yashwant Sinha calls out 'horse-trading' as MLAs crossvote
Polling for the election of India's 15th president is currently underway at the Parliament and state assemblies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Ministers have cast their votes in the battle that pits NDA's Draupadi Murmu against opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. About 4,800 legislators are voting to elect India's next president in a race that puts the NDA candidate in a comfortable majority.
Speaking on the allegations of horse-trading, opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha said, "The power of money has been used against me." Targeting the misuse of government agencies, he alleged that they are now involved in breaking up political parties due to a 'game of money.' He also said that this is an important election since it will decide the fate of democracy in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, MP from Varanasi, cast his vote on Monday morning, kicking off the monsoon session of the Parliament. "This is an important session because a new president and vice president will be elected to guide the nation," PM Modi said. The chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Goa also cast their votes at respective state assemblies.
Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who has been ailing since last year due to COVID-19 and other health issues, arrived at the Parliament in a wheelchair. Photos of the 89-year-old economist who served as a two-time Prime Minister during the UPA regime were widely shared on social media. Samajwadi Party Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav also visited the UP Legislative Assembly in a wheelchair.
Congress MLA from Haryana Kuldeep Bishnoi hinted that he had cross-voted in favor of Draupadi Murmu over Yashwant Sinha. "Like Rajya Sabha elections, I voted for my conscience," the two-time MP and four-time MLA said. He was dropped from all party positions in June after he voted against Congress candidate Ajay Maken in Rajya Sabha polls.
Sole Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA in Gujarat, an ally of the UPA, said that he voted for NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu. Mohammad Moqueem, Congress MLA from Odisha who was reportedly unhappy after not being made state party chief, also voted for Murmu. SP MLA from Bareilly's Bhojipura, Shahjeel Islam, is also reported to have cross-voted for Murmu despite their party supporting Sinha.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali announced his boycott of the presidential polls through a Facebook post and said, "I cannot vote for the Congress candidate as they are responsible for the 1984 genocide." He added that while he had hoped that BJP would solve Punjab's problems by being in the Centre, he had lost faith in the party and will not vote.
Draupadi Murmu is a tribal woman from Odisha who has served as the Governor of Jharkhand. Yashwant Sinha is a former Union Minister who served in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. The President of India is chosen by an electoral college comprising elected members of both Houses of Parliament, state legislatures representatives, and the union territories of Delhi and Puducherry.