M A I N   N E W S

Tarlochan, Ajay Chautala make it to Rajya Sabha
Kiran Choudhary of the Congress defeated
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Mr Ajay Singh Chautala of the INLD and Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, were elected to the Rajya Sabha from Haryana here today. Mr Tarlochan Singh, who contested as an Independent candidate, was supported by the INLD, the BJP, the BSP and three Independent candidates.

While Ajay secured 29 first-preference votes, Mr Tarlochan Singh polled 28 first preference votes. The defeated Congress candidate, Mrs Kiran Choudhary, polled 22 votes. One vote (No. 00091) was declared invalid. The effective strength of the House is 80.

Tarlochan SinghMr Tarlochan Singh: “It is for the first time that an independent person committed to the cause of the minorities will go to Parliament without any political bias. I am not in active politics. Still the people’s representatives in Haryana have reposed their confidence in me. It will be now my duty to serve the state, the nation and the minorities. After the Supreme Court verdict on the SYL canal, individual opinions do not matter. The verdict has to be implemented.”
Kiran ChoudharyMrs Kiran Choudhary: “The Speaker’s action in disqualifying six MLAs when the electoral process had begun smacks of arbitrariness. The intention of the Speaker is obvious. It is shame for democracy. The high office of the Speaker has been damaged. I cannot fight this kind of unfair battle. I welcome the Supreme Court decision, which has vindicated my stand.”
Ajay Singh ChautalaMr Ajay Singh Chautala: “We were convinced about winning both Rajya Sabha seats right from the beginning. The Congress tried to vitiate the political atmosphere of the state by engineering defections. However, the Speaker and the Supreme Court had taught it a lesson. The election has also proved what we had been saying for long that the Congress and the Haryana Vikas Party are ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams of each other. They will soon merge.”

The Congress hopes of victory were dashed to the ground once the word came that the Supreme Court had — while staying the disqualification of six MLAs supporting the party — had not granted them the voting right.

The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, who was present at the time of counting, was the first to point out that a mark had been put on vote No. 00091 when the ballot papers were being sorted candidate wise. However, the Returning Officer, Mr Sumit Kumar, did not take much notice of his objection, saying that it was a printing error. However, when the votes were being counted, the Finance Minister, Prof Sampat Singh, pointed out that the mark was not a printing error but a deliberate ink mark made on the ballot paper.

Mrs Choudhary and her supporters, including her election agent, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda; her polling agent, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav; and her counting agent, Mr Karan Singh Dalal, pleaded with the Returning Officer that the mark was not deliberate and the vote should be counted in her favour. However, Mr Sumit Kumar declared the vote invalid.

Mr Chautala, Haryana Congress President Bhajan Lal and HVP President Bansi Lal were among the first to cast their votes.

The BSP had authorised its candidate for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, Mr Hem Raj Kashyap, to be the party’s election agent. However, the lone BSP MLA, Mr Bishan Lal Saini, had cast his vote before Mr Kashyap reached the Vidhan Sabha. Mr Saini was one of the proposers of Mr Tarlochan Singh. The Congress request to the Returning Officer to cancel the vote of Mr Saini was turned down.

Now it was the turn of the ruling combine to protest. Mr Anil Vij, Independent MLA from Ambala Cantonment, urged Mr Sumit Kumar to cancel the vote of Mr Bhajan Lal on the ground that he had violated the secrecy of the ballot by showing it to Mr Hooda and Mrs Choudhary.

After the results were announced, Mr Chautala said the Congress had always encouraged defections. After forming a government in the state in 1999 with the help of MLAs of other parties, he said, he preferred a mid-term poll and denied the ticket to those who had defected from their original parties. This, he said, was done to curb the menace of political defections.

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