NCP MLA Kamlesh Singh on Monday took many in the political circle by surprise as he announced that he has voted for NDA presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu.
Murmu, an ex-governor of Jharkhand, is up against former Hazaribag MP Yashwant Sinha, the joint candidate of non-BJP parties, including the Congress, the TMC and the NCP. Singh said he went by his “conscience call” while exercising his franchise.
According to Assembly sources, 50 of the state’s 81 legislators cast their votes for the presidential elections in the Tribunal Hall of the House till 1 pm.
As many as 28 legislators of the NDA, including two of the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) Party, reached the Assembly premises in a bus to exercise their franchise.
The MLAs, under the leadership of former chief minister Babulal Marandi and AJSU Party chief Sudesh Mahto, showed victory signs, as some of them said they were elated over the fact that Droupadi Murmu, a tribal woman, was set to get elevated to the top constitutional post in a first.
”NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu will get the support of at least 65 legislators in Jharkhand under any circumstance as many Congress legislators are also going to listen to their conscience and vote for her,” BJP MLA Biranchi Narayan claimed.
BJP legislators Anant Ojha and Bhanu Pratap Shahi were among the early ones to exercise franchise.
”I was the first one to vote to elect the first citizen. It is a matter of great pride for me,” Ojha said.
Shahi said, “We strongly believe Murmu will work for the betterment of the society including the poor, downtrodden and Dalits.” The saffron camp’s ailing Sindri MLA, Indrajeet Mahto, however, could not cast his vote as he was undergoing treatment in hospital.
Voting for the presidential poll began at 10 am will continue till 5 PM.
Both Murmu and Sinha had visited Jharkhand as part of the poll campaign to seek support.
The ruling JMM, which runs a coalition government in the state with the Congress and the RJD, had initially backed Sinha only to receive flak from the tribal community to which both Murmu and the party’s executive president and Chief Minister Hemant Soren belong.
The party had then pledged support for the NDA nominee.
In the 81-member House, the ruling JMM-Congress-RJD alliance has a combined strength of 48, with the Shibu Soren-founded party alone having 30 seats in its kitty. The BJP has 26 legislators including Babulal Marandi, the former JVM-P chief who joined the saffron camp after the 2019 assembly elections.
Vote value of each MP is 700 across the country.
MLAs in Jharkhand have a vote value of 176 each.
The JMM has three MPs in the state, the BJP 14, the Congress two and the AJSU Party one.
Murmu, having secured the support of the JMM, is expected to garner a score of 22,808 in the state, and Sinha 4,392, with the backing of the Congress and the RJD.