Kolkata: Polling for the presidential election ended in West Bengal Assembly at 5 pm on Monday, as 291 MLAs and 33 parliamentarians cast their votes, amid claims and counterclaims of cross-voting by the ruling TMC and the opposition BJP.
Parliamentarians and legislators across the country voted on Monday to elect India’s 15th president, choosing between opposition pick Yashwant Sinha and NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu who is favoured to win the battle to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Lawmakers of both the TMC and the BJP were seen queuing up at the assembly premises, as the voting began at 10 am. The assembly has 294 seats.
According to TMC chief whip Nirmal Ghosh, out of 216 TMC MLAs, 215 cast their votes.
The party also has the support of an independent MLA from Kalimpong, Ruden Sada Lepcha.
Nineteen of the 23 Lok Sabha MPs and 13 Rajya Sabha members of the party exercised their franchise here.
Sisir Adhikari and his son Dibyendu Adhikari, the two MPs who have been maintaining distance from the party leadership since the last assembly polls, voted in the national capital.
“I have not joined any other party But, Droupadi Murmu is a good candidate for the post,” Sisir Adhikari told reporters in New Delhi.
Senior TMC leader and minister Firhad Hakim said the objective is to ensure that opposition presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha gets a handsome lead from the state.
“The lead that Yashwant Sinha will get is beyond all calculations. We are sure that even BJP MLAs voted for our candidate,” he said.
BJP legislator Mukul Roy, who had switched over to the TMC last year, exuded confidence that Sinha would win the presidential poll.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari claimed: “Seventy BJP MLAs have voted in favour of NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu. We have specific information that several TMC MLAs and MPs also voted for Murmu.
Reacting to his comments, TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee said it was ironic that the saffron party was unsure about the number of its MLAs in the House.
“Sometimes the BJP claims it has 75 MLAs and at times 70 MLAs. The party doesn’t know the exact number of legislators it has in the assembly,” he said.
Taking a dig at the BJP for shifting around 70 MLAs to a hotel prior to the voting, Banerjee also said it reflects the “lack of trust” in the saffron camp.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cast her vote around 3:30 pm.
More power to truth! More power to the people of our nation! I cast my vote for the Presidential Elections in WB Assembly today. I pray that may the winning candidate always uphold the values of our Constitution and drive the nation towards peace and prosperity. Best wishes, she said in a Facebook post.
The BJP legislators, who arrived at the assembly in two air-conditioned buses, were seen wearing traditional tribal scarves as a mark of support to Murmu, while a few TMC MLAs sang tribal songs while entering the House.
The saffron party presently has 17 Lok Sabha MPs from West Bengal. However, Arjun Singh, who rejoined the TMC, is yet to resign as a parliamentarian.
Lone ISF MLA Naushad Siddiqui abstained from voting in the presidential election.
One seat is vacant following the death of veteran TMC MLA Sadhan Pande a few months back.
Earlier in the day, BJP MLA Sudip Kumar Mukherjee lodged a complaint with the Election Commission against Abhishek Banerjee, accusing him of violating norms by entering the assembly with an entourage of 15 cars.
The TMC dubbed the allegation baseless, asserting that the entourage is part of Banerjee’s security set up.
According to the Election Commission, the vote value of each MP is 700, while that of the MLAs of West Bengal Assembly is 151.
The votes will be counted on July 21 and the next president will take oath on July 25.
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