Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday prayed for more power to Indian democracy as he voted for the presidential election at the Vidhan Bhavan's Tilak Hall here. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati claimed that his party rose above politics to support NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu and urged legislators belonging to weaker sections to vote on the basis of their conscience.
UP Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar arrived together to cast their votes. Rajbhar is an ally of the state's main opposition Samajwadi Party, which is supporting former Union minister Yashwant Sinha in the election. However, Rajbhar's SBSP has broken ranks while declaring support to Murmu. The voting started at 10 am and will continue till 5 pm, a senior official said. So far, 396 out of total 403 MLAs in the state cast their votes in Lucknow.
Five MLAs from the state were to cast their vote outside the state due to personal reasons, an official had earlier said. The five MLAs are BJP's Mukesh Choudhary, Neel Ratan Patel and Brijbhushan Rajput; Samajwadi Party's Zia Ur Rahman; and Rashtriya Lok Dal's Pradeep Kumar Singh. Mukesh Choudhary, Zia Ur Rahman, Pradeep Kumar Singh and Brijbhushan Rajput were to cast their vote in Delhi and Neel Ratan Patel in Kerala. SBSP MLA Abbas Ansari, son of mafia-turned politician Mukhtar Ansari, did not turn up to cast his vote for the presidential election, as a court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him, party chief Rajbhar said, adding that rest of the five MLAs of SBSP voted for Murmu.
Amidst reports of cross-voting by Shazil Islam Ansari, an SP MLA from Bhojipura in Bareilly, the MLA told PTI, "Why should I cross-vote? I have voted as per the party line." Chief Minister Adityanath was among the early voters. "Voted in Lucknow today to ensure participation in the 2022 presidential election. May the democracy of India be more empowered," Adityanath tweeted in Hindi.
UP Cabinet ministers Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary and Surya Pratap Shahi too queued up to cast their votes. Jewar MLA Dhirendra Singh was also among the early voters.
Meanwhile, BSP chief Mayawati in a tweet said, "Rising above the party politics and as per the thought process of the party and movement, the BSP was the first to announce its support to a woman hailing from tribal society." "Appeal to other people of the weaker sections to vote on the basis of their conscience today," she tweeted in Hindi. Brij Bhushan Dubey, the returning officer for the election in UP, said all legislators were informed and told what precautions they have to take. The MLAs will have to use a special pen given by the Election Commission of India to vote, he said.
Three polling booths have been set up. Two ballot boxes, which have come from Delhi, will be sent back to the national capital after voting is completed on July 18, Dubey said, adding that the counting of votes will take place in Delhi on July 21. With the highest vote value of 208 for each of its 403 MLAs, UP will be an important state to watch out for in the presidential election. NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu is pitted against joint Opposition pick Yashwant Sinha in the poll to elect the 15th President of India.
The electoral college which elects the President through the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote comprises MPs and MLAs. Nominated MPs and MLAs, and members of legislative councils are not entitled to vote in the presidential poll. The MPs and MLAs will get ballot papers of different colours for voting. While the MPs will get green papers, the MLAs will be given ballot papers printed in pink.
Major political parties have already announced their support for the candidates.