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Rajya Sabha Polls: BSP's MLA Votes in Favour of BJP’s Saroj Pandey, Ensures Win

The grand old party was left fuming after BSP’s lone MLA voted in favour of BJP’s Saroj Pandey, while two of its MLAs, led by former CM Ajit Jogi’s son Amit Jogi, abstained from voting.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:March 24, 2018, 2:00 PM IST
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Rajya Sabha Polls: BSP's MLA Votes in Favour of BJP’s Saroj Pandey, Ensures Win
A file photo of BJP leader Saroj Pandey.
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Raipur: With odds being heavily against them, a win was not something the opposition Congress expected in the Rajya Sabha polls in Chhattisgarh but the eventual outcome still left them a disappointed lot.

The grand old party was left fuming after BSP’s lone MLA voted in favour of BJP’s Saroj Pandey, while two of its MLAs, led by former CM Ajit Jogi’s son Amit Jogi, abstained from voting.

The lone BSP member in the House Keshav Chandra, along with the single Independent MLA Vimal Chopda, voted in favour of the BJP candidate.

According to party insiders, the outcome might not change equations between the Congress and Janata Congress Chhattisgarh led by ex-CM Ajit Jogi, but it would dent much-rumoured Congress-BSP alliance in the state in election year.

Leader of Opposition TS Singhdeo has even written to PCC president Bhupesh Baghel for expulsion of two rebel MLAs.

BJP’s Saroj Pandey, who managed 51 votes in the Assembly of 89 MLAs, defeated Congress’ Lekhram Sahu, who could only garner 36 votes.

In 2016, the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee had expelled former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s son and Marwahi MLA Amit Jogi for six years from the primary membership of the party for his “involvement” in “fixing” a by-election in 2015.

However, Amit Jogi, along with two of his known loyalists – Congress MLAs Siyaram Kaushik and RK Rai (under suspension from Congress), had unconditionally announced support to Congress Rajya Sabha candidate Lekhram Sahu ahead of voting that took place on Friday.

The trio however took a U-turn on the day of voting seeking an apology from Congress Chhattisgarh in-charge PL Punia over latter’s adverse remarks against ex-CM Ajit Jogi. As Punia did not apologise, the three abstained from voting thus increasing the victory margin for Pandey.

However, the real jolt came from the BSP as the Congress till recently was exploring possibility of pre-poll alliance with the party but its lone MLA Keshav Chandra voted in BJP’s favour.

“Our win was certain but we pocketed two extra votes and the outcome also exposed the chinks in Congress’ armour. The Rajya Sabha election kick-started the series of wins which would culminate in BJP’s victory in 2018 assembly polls,” BJP state president Dharmalal Kaushik told the media.

Saying that a Congress win was not on the cards, Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh Assembly TS Singhdeo sought expulsion of rebel MLAs – Siyaram Kaushik and RK Rai - over indiscipline. He also wrote a letter to party state chief seeking ouster of both the legislators saying they have been given enough chances by the party.

He, however, denied that BSP MLA’s move of voting for BJP would affect their relations with the party saying it primarily reflected their MLA’s ‘code of conduct and commitment towards party whip’.

However, a defiant RK Rai, who was in the past suspended along with Siyaram Kauhsik for showing allegiance with Ajit Jogi camp, talking to News18 claimed that throwing them out was beyond the powers of party state unit.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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