BJP complains to Election Commission over Himachal Pradesh Congress’s whip for Rajya Sabha poll : The Tribune India

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BJP complains to Election Commission over Himachal Pradesh Congress’s whip for Rajya Sabha poll

Didn’t do it: Congress; voting today

BJP complains to Election Commission over Himachal Pradesh Congress’s whip for Rajya Sabha poll

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Tribune News Service

Pratibha Chauhan

Shimla, February 26

The BJP today filed a complaint before the Election Commission of India (ECI) against the Congress for issuing a whip to the party MLAs to vote in favour of the party candidate in the Rajya Sabha poll tomorrow.

The election to the lone vacant Rajya Sabha seat from Himachal has become interesting with the BJP fielding former Congress leader Harsh Mahajan against Congress candidate and Supreme Court lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The seat has fallen vacant on the completion of BJP president Jagat Prakash Nadda's term.

Mahajan has sought intervention of the ECI by issuing a show-cause notice to the Congress as he termed the issuing of the whip as unethical and an attempt to hijack the election. “The Congress issued a whip on February 22 in violation of the clarification issued by the ECI on July 6, 2017. The ECI has ruled that no party can issue a whip, like they do in legislative assemblies, asking their MLAs to vote for a particular candidate,” the complaint reads.

A meeting of the Congress legislature party (CLP) will be held in the presence of party in-charge Rajeev Shukla tonight. The speculation about the possibility of some disgruntled party MLAs cross-voting or abstaining is causing discomfiture to the ruling party, although it has a comfortable majority of 40 in the 68-member House. The BJP has 25 MLAs while there are three Independents.

Under Section 59 of the Representation of People Act, if an MLA voted against his party candidate but showed the vote to the authorised agent then the vote could not be declared invalid, said BJP candidate Mahajan. “The MLA who votes against his party candidate cannot be disqualified and will continue to remain a member of the House,” he added.

The BJP is pinning hopes on senior Congress legislators, including Sujanpur MLA Rajinder Rana and Dharamsala MLA Sudhir Sharma, voting against their party candidate. The two MLAs, both of whom were strong candidates for a ministerial berth, have been openly airing their grouse against their own government.

The BJP pointed out that since the issuing of the whip can affect the decision-making ability of the MLAs and influence the outcome of the election, it would be tantamount to undue influence. “Electors are at liberty to vote or not to vote for the Rajya Sabha election as per their free will and choice. The issuing of the whip is illegal and against the ECI guidelines. Moreover, the whip has the name of the Congress candidate,” the BJP said.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan Chauhan said: “Initially, we thought about issuing a whip, but when we got to know of the rules, we dropped the move. The letter which the BJP is claiming to be the whip has signatures of only 10-12 legislators.”

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