Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav who activated presidential poll by ticking a ballot in favour of Opposition nominee P A Sangma, only to tear the paper and vote for UPA’s Pranab Mukherjee.
The SP boss, who was among the early voters at Parliament House, first marked a vote for Sangma. Realizing his mistake, Yadav tore the ballot. His vote for Mukherjee was recorded on the second ballot, prompting Sangma’s polling agent to demand cancellation of the vote.
Rajya Sabha secretary general V K Agnihotri, who is the returning officer for the poll, said he had received the complaint from Sangma’s side and forwarded it to the Election Commission (EC) for a decision. Sources said the ballot paper carrying the incorrect entry has been deposited with the polling officer.
Although the case might be one of inadvertent error, the episode reminded how the SP leader backed Mukherjee only after giving the ruling UPA some anxious moments by briefly teaming up with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to propose the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and ex-President A P J Abdul Kalam.
In a written complaint, Sangma’s election agent former MP Satya Pal Jain objected to the grant of a second ballot paper to Mulayam Yadav, saying he is “not entitled to another one (ballot)” under the law.
“Mulayam Singh marked his ballot paper in favour of Sangma and then realising his mistake tore it and requested the Returning Officer to give him another ballot paper, who issued another ballot paper to him. We have objected to the tearing of first ballot paper and objected to him being given another ballot paper, which he is not entitled to,” Jain said.
Over 90% of MPs voted at the Parliament House polling centre within three hours of beginning of the vote. This included PM Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Mukherjee and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
As many as 4,120 MLAs and 776 MPs — with a total vote value of 10.98 lakh votes — are eligible to cast their ballot in the election. The counting of votes will be taken up on Sunday at 11:00 am.
At Parliament House, where 699 MPs and eight MLAs were eligible to exercise their franchise, the turnout was 96.60%. Of the 707 eligible to cast their vote in Parliament, 683 electors — 675 MPs and 8 MLAs — had cast their ballots when the polling ended at 5:00 pm.
Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh Bapi Raju Kanumuri was the first one to cast his vote at Parliament House. Interestingly, he entered the polling booth after taking off his shoes.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said that five Congress MPs, including Union Minister S M Krishna and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, cast their votes outside Delhi.
YSR Congress chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who is currently in jail, cast his vote in Andhra Pradesh.