Rajya Sabha polls: All 206 MLAs in MP cast votes for three vacant seats

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Bhopal: All 206 members of the Madhya Pradesh (MP) legislative assembly (MLAs) on Friday cast their votes in the Rajya Sabha polls held for three vacant seats from MP, said AP Singh, principal secretary, state legislative assembly secretariat and the returning officer.

Polling, which was held in the assembly’s central hall, passed off peacefully amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, where all protocols were adhered to during the voting process.

The counting of votes would begin at 5pm and the results are expected later at night on Friday, state assembly officials said.

MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the first among the 206 lawmakers to cast his vote, followed by state home and health minister Narottam Mishra. State Congress president and ex-CM Kamal Nath also cast his vote.

A lawmaker, who had recently tested Covid-19 positive, was the last MLA to exercise his franchise. He turned up at the state assembly wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) kit at the appointed hour of 12:30pm.

The state assembly premises was sanitised after he left for the day.

Singh said that the infected MLA could have cast his vote via postal ballot, as that option was available.

“All the MLAs, except the one, who recently tested Covid-19 positive, cast their votes in the first three hours. The infected lawmaker showed up at 12:30 as per the schedule conveyed to him, and he left immediately after casting his vote. The polling passed off peacefully. Social distancing norms and all safety measures were followed during the voting process,” Singh said.

State BJP leader Dr. Hitesh Bajpai expressed his concern over the Covid-19 positive MLA’s presence on the state assembly premises, even though he had come wearing the PPE kit.

“A PPE kit is for self-protection, but still there’s no guarantee that a Covid-19 patient wearing such a kit won’t infect others,” said Bajpai.

Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sumer Singh Solanki from the BJP and Digvijaya Singh and Phool Singh Baraiya from the Congress are the four candidates vying for the three vacant Upper House seats from MP.

Currently, the 230-member MP Assembly has 206 MLAs and 24 seats are lying vacant. The BJP’s strength in the assembly is 107, Congress (92), independents (4), Bahujan Samaj Party (2) and a Samajwadi Party (SP) lawmaker.

At least 52 first preference votes are needed for the victory of an RS candidate, state assembly officials said.

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