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Cross-voting in UP assembly, SP MLA Shivpal Yadav votes for Draupadi Murmu

Lucknow: Senior Samajwadi MLA Shivpal Yadav, on Monday, voted for NDA presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu, defying the party line. It may be noted that the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party is supporting the joint opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. Talking to reporters, Shivpal said, “Yashwant Sinha had once called Mulayam Singh Yadav an ISI agent and we can never support him. Hardcore SP leaders, those who follow Mulayam Singh`s principles will never support a candidate who levelled such allegations.

Shivpal had even written a letter to Akhilesh Yadav, asking him to reconsider support to Sinha.

Another SP MLA Shahjeel Islam, the Samajwadi Party MLA from Bareilly, has also reportedly cross-voted in the Presidential election. He has cast his vote for Draupadi Murmu, whereas his party is backing Yashwant Sinha. Islam reached the Vidhan Bhawan, accompanied by Shivpal.

MPs and MLAs across the country are voting to elect India’s 15th president, choosing between opposition pick Yashwant Sinha and NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu who is favoured to win the battle to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

With the BJP’s dominance and support from regional parties such as the BJD, BSP, Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and now JMM, Murmu’s vote share is likely to reach nearly two-thirds and she is set to become the first tribal leader and the second woman to occupy the top constitutional post.

While MPs filed into Parliament’s Room No 63 which had been converted into a polling station to cast their vote, MLAs headed to state assemblies. Nearly 4,800 elected MPs and MLAs are entitled to vote in the election but nominated MPs and MLAs, and Members of the Legislative Council are not.

As polling gathered pace for a race in which the end result is seemingly clear, Sinha appealed to parliamentarians and legislators to listen to their “inner voice” and support him.”I have repeatedly said this election is very important as it will decide the direction as to whether democracy will remain in India or will slowly end. The indications that we are getting is that we are moving towards its end,” Sinha told reporters.

“There is no party whip. This is a secret ballot. I appeal to all MPs and MLAs to use their discretion and elect me to save democracy,” the 84-year-old added. The veteran politician, who visited 13 state capitals during his campaign, said he is not just fighting a political battle.

“Government agencies have become very active, they are causing split in political parties, they are compelling people to vote in a particular way and there is also a game of money involved,” he alleged.

The voting process would conclude at 5 pm. The votes will be counted on July 21 and the next president will take oath on July 25. Though the result appeared to be a foregone conclusion, there was an element of political excitement with speculation about cross-voting in some places.