86 J&K MLAs, 9 MPs cast votes; Rashid abstains

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Opposition leader Omar Abdullah casting their votes for the Presidential election in Srinagar on Monday.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Opposition leader Omar Abdullah casting their votes for the Presidential election in Srinagar on Monday.

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, July 17: All nine Members of Parliament (MPs) and 86 out of 87 MLAs of Jammu and Kashmir cast their votes to elect new President of India in place of Pranab Mukherjee, who demits office after completion of five year term on July 24.
“All nine MPs of the State including five Lok Sabha and four Rajya Sabha members cast their votes at the Parliament Hall in the Union Capital while 86 MLAs voted in the Legislative Assembly complex in Srinagar,” official sources told the Excelsior.
Independent MLA from Langate, Engineer Abdul Rashid was the lone MLA to abstain from the voting,” they said, adding that all other MLAs used their right to franchise between 10 am to 5 pm.
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The polling was held smoothly in the presence of a Central Observer with no complaint reported from any political party or the individual.
Congress MLA from Inderwal, Ghulam Mohammad Saroori was the first to cast vote in Srinagar while Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah cast their votes at the fag end of voting, sources said.
Though it was a secret ballot, the voting went on expected line with BJP-PDP coalition partners and BJP’s allies including People’s Conference and Independent Bakir Rizvi voting for BJP candidate Ram Nath Kovind and NC, Congress and CPM MLAs, apart from Independent Mohammad Hakim Yasin casting their votes in favour of Congress candidate Meira Kumar.
While Engineer Rashid abstained, another Independent MLA Pawan Gupta voted for Kovind. Gupta told the Excelsior that he voted for the Central BJP leadership and not for the State BJP.
All nine MPs from J&K including Union Minister in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Thupstan Chewang and Shamsher Singh Manhas (all BJP), Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha (Congress), Dr Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), Muzaffar Baig, Nazir Ahmad Laway and Fayaz Ahmad Mir (all PDP) voted in the Parliament Hall at New Delhi.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters after casting his vote, Opposition National Conference (NC) working president Omar Abdullah blamed Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for deteriorating situation in Kashmir and sought explanation over her remark on Chinese involvement in the State.
“Till now, she was blaming Pakistan for worsening the situation in Kashmir, now China too is being blamed. We don’t know which third country will be blamed for Kashmir. I never talked about China (when I was Chief Minister),” Omar said.
“As far as blaming Pakistan is concerned, we all know their role in Kashmir. But how China is involved in Kashmir, it must be discussed in the Parliament. And why did CM talk about China, how much China in involved in the internal affairs of Kashmir we all should know,” Omar said. Taking a jibe at Mehbooba Mufti, Omar said that External Affairs should be left to the Government of India.
“It is the failure of the Chief Minister that the situation is deteriorating in the state. She should do her own job right, leave Pakistan and China to the Centre,” he said. On the Presidential election, Omar said given the Electoral College, NDA has an advantage. “But it is a secret ballot, so nobody can say anything with certainty about the candidate winning the election,” he said.
Engineer Rashid told reporters after abstaining from the voting: “Though the top Congress leadership approached me more than once for voting in favour of the joint opposition candidate, it was made clear to them that the Congress has lost the right to seek my vote in light of the broken promises made by President Pranab Mukherjee when he was the UPA’s presidential nominee”.
He said that he had submitted a memorandum to Mukherjee seeking clemency for Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru, who was hanged inside New Delhi’s Tihar Jail on February 9, 2013.
Mukherjee had promised to have a very humanitarian view of the clemency petition. In the presence of both (former Chief Minister) Omar Abdullah and (former Pradesh Congress Committee chief) Saif-ud-din Soz, Mukherjee had assured that Guru would not be hanged, Rashid claimed.
PTI adds from New Delhi: close to 99 per cent voting was recorded today for electing India’s 14th president, the returning officer for the poll announced.
The counting of votes will take place on July 20.
The numbers are stacked in favour of the ruling coalition’s nominee Ram Nath Kovind over the opposition’s candidate Meira Kumar.
Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Puducherry recorded 100 per cent voting.
In Parliament House, the voting percentage was 99 per cent, said Lok Sabha Secretary General Anoop Mishra, who is also the returning officer for the polls.
He said while the sanctioned strength of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha is 776, 771 MPs were eligible to cast their votes.
There are two vacancies each in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, while one BJP MP Chedi Paswan does not have voting rights, he added.
In Delhi, 717 MPs were to cast their ballot but only 714 exercised their franchise. The TMC’s Tapas Pal, the BJD’s Ram Chandra Hansdak and Ambumani Ramadoss of the PMK did not cast their votes.
Fifty-four MPs had sought permissions to cast their vote in state capitals. These included Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, his UP counterpart Adityanath, his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya and Union minister Uma Bharti.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who is an MLA from Gujarat, had also sought permission to cast his vote in Delhi.
Trinamool Congress MPs cast their votes in Kolkata.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first person to cast his vote, Mishra said.
He also said that except for Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura, data has been received from all other states which indicates that the voting was “close to 100 per cent”.
Counting will begin at 11 AM on July 20. First the ballot box of Parliament House will be opened, and then, the ballot boxes received from states will be counted on alphabetical basis.
The votes will be counted on four separate tables and there would be eight rounds of counting.
Thirty two polling stations including the one in Parliament House, was set up in various states.
A total of 4,896 voters — 4,120 MLAs and 776 elected MPs — are eligible to cast their ballot. MLCs of States with Legislative Council are not part of the Electoral College.
While the value of an MLA’s vote depends on the population of the state he or she belongs to, the value of an MP’s vote remains the same at 708.
The value of an MLA’s vote in Sikkim is seven while in Uttar Pradesh, it is 208.

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