When cross voting gave jitters to party managers

Cross voting took place in presidential and vice presidential election as well as the RS poll in Gujarat

GN Bureau | August 9, 2017


#Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls   #cross voting  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana) Representational image
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana) Representational image

The uncertainty of cross voting keeps party leaders on their toes ahead of crucial elections. Cross voting took place in the presidential and vice presidential election as well as the Rajya Sabha poll in Gujarat. 

When a lawmaker votes for a party he or she does not belong to, that is considered cross voting. 

Both the Congress and the BJP were deeply concerned as the anti-defection law does not kick in against MLAs who don’t vote for official nominees. 

“An elected member of Parliament or a State Legislature, who has been elected as a candidate set up by a political party and a nominated member of Parliament or a State Legislature who is a member of political party at the time he takes his seat would be disqualified on the ground of defection if he voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party or votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction of such party,” says the anti-defection law  

The anti-defection law does not apply to any vote outside the House and this includes Rajya Sabha election, the vice-president’s poll and the presidential election.

The supreme court noted in Kuldip Nayar vs Union Of India & Ors that “if secrecy of ballot instead of ensuring free and fair elections is used, as is done in this case, to defeat the very public purpose for which it is enacted, to suppress a wrong coming to light and to protect a fraud on the election process or even to defend a crime viz. forgery of ballot papers, this principle of secrecy of ballot will have to yield to the larger principle of free and fair elections.”

During the presidential election, large scale cross-voting took place in seven states.

In Gujarat, 11 Congress MLAs are believed to have voted for Ram Nath Kovind who went on to defeated UPA candidate Meira Kumar. 

In West Bengal, Kovind won 11 votes though the BJP and its allies have only six votes. Eight opposition lawmakers in Uttar Pradesh are said to have cross-voted. In Tripura, where the BJP does not have any lawmakers, Kovind won seven votes.

In the vice presidential election which Venkaiah Naidu  won by defeating UPA candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Naidu got 516 votes. Gandhi got 244 votes. Due to cross voting, Naidu got about 20 votes. 

Gujarat saw cross voting on Tuesday, with rebel Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela and his six supporters casting their ballot in favour of BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput, who had defected from the Congress.

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