Presidential poll-Cross voting likely in opposition rank

NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind is set to become 14th President of India, BJP wanted to capitalize the reported conflict within Samajwadi Party to secure record votes from Uttar Pradesh, Indian Express report says.

When asked why he was not following the party line, he snapped back by saying that his view was not asked for by the party leadership and hence it was not binding on him on what was the official party line with regard to the presidential elections.

While Akhilesh Yadav pledged support to UPA nominee Meira Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav have backed NDA's candidate Ram Nath Kovind. Mulayam had also attended a dinner which was hosted by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in honour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Lucknow visit on June 20.

On Friday Shivpal Singh Yadav made it clear that all is not well yet within the Samajwadi party. Though the BJP also claimed support of some Congress MLAs, the state Congress leaders rejected such a possibility.

Shivpal Yadav also claimed that some MPs of the party would vote for Ram Nath Kovind, who was "more secular and socialist". I have a very old relations with him. The BJP has chosen a strong candidate.

Sources said that barring Mulayam all the other four SP Lok Sabha members belonged to the Akhilesh camp and were likely to heed the latter's advice on the issue.

If cross voting takes place in SP - as is now expected - it would create a piquant situation for SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. Soon after the meeting, Samajwadi party spokespersons told the media that Akhilesh had asked all MPs and MLAs of the party to vote for Meira Kumar in the July 17 elections. In a written appeal circulated to all SP MLAs, Ms. Kumar said that the presidential election has given one an opportunity to transcend petty politics and listen to the inner conscience.

"I have also abided by what my elder brother (Mulayam) said and am doing so here as well", Shivpal Yadav, the Samajwadi Party legislator from Jaswantnagar assembly constituency of Etawah, said.

Through the day, Shivpal claimed many SP MLAs had voted for Kovind because the SP always believed that president should be elected by consensus. "He is a good man and the best candidate", Mr. Shivpal Yadav said.

Meanwhile, Shivpal's loyalist Deepak Mishra, though not a voter, said, "We pledge open support to Kovind".

Vanessa Coleman

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