Even as voting to two Rajya Sabha seats was in progress, independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma filed a complaint against two Congress MLAs to the Election Commission of India (ECI) demanding cancellation of their votes on Friday. Sharma is a debutant who was being supported by the BJP and its ally Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) for RS candidature. Sharma also protested against Returning Officer RK Nandal for playing a partisan role while conducting elections.
A neck to neck competition for votes was reported between Congress’s parachute candidate Ajay Maken and Sharma. After the voting process began, Sharma saw Congress MLAs BB Batra and Kiran Chaudhary showing their ballot papers, apart from their authorized agent, to other legislators present there in the polling station.
This was a clear breach of norms and Sharma promptly filed an objection against the erring legislators with Returning Officer RK Nandal, both verbally and in writing. “However, acting in a biased manner the returning officer refused to take my complaint,” said Sharma. Sharma who is also the iTV founder, then lodged a formal complaint with the Chief Election Commissioner demanding cancellation of their votes. JJP’s Digvijay Chautala, election agent of Sharma, had a verbal spat with Nandal when the returning officer objected to his sitting manner.
BJP RS candidate Krishan Lal Panwar and MLA Deepak Mangla also filed a
complaint with the ECI in this respect, saying that Congress legislators had failed to maintain the secrecy of their ballot, thus violating the Rule 39-A and 70 of the Conduct of Election India Rules, 1961.
The polling day witnessed a high-voltage drama after Sharma’s complaint.
Given the seriousness of the issue, a delegation of Union Cabinet ministers and senior BJP leaders Arjun Meghwal, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Jitendra Singh and Gajendra Singh Shehhawat met ECI officials to apprise them of the incident. Congress also approached the ECI. As a result, the counting process was upheld.
Out of 90 legislators, 89 cast their votes. Independent MLA Bajral Kundu abstained, though BJP leaders OP Dhankhar and Anil Vij tried to persuade him to cast his vote.