14 MLAs crossvote: BJP unity in tatters

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With at least 14 BJP MLAs cross-voting in favour of Congress-led UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential polls and causing a major embarrassment to the saffron party, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has a lot to worry about as he gears up to get the Finance bill approved during the ongoing legislature session.

As per calculations, Mr Mukherjee should have got the votes of only 103 MLAs (71 from Congress, 27 from JD(S) and 5 independents) but he secured 117 while, NDA nominee P.A. Sangma managed to get only 103 votes, though BJP has 120 legislators in the state Assembly. With three votes turning out to be invalid, the number of those who have crossvoted is 17, which also includes BJP MLAs backing the newly-floated BSR Party of B. Sriramulu, who had openly pledged support for Mr Mukherjee. The big question now is who are the more than 10 BJP MLAs, not belonging to the Sriramulu camp, who have preferred Pranab. The value of votes polled by Mr Mukherjee in Karnataka was 15,327 while Mr Sangma polled 13,493.

Cross-voting: Pradhan asks state unit to order probe
Of the 224 members, one MLA — Haladi Srinivasa Shetty had abstained from voting in the July 19 poll as he was upset over being dropped from the new Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar at the last minute. If the cross-voting trend continues when the crucial Finance bill comes up for approval in the state Assembly a few days from now, it could well means curtains for Mr Shettar as the combined Opposition could defeat the bill with the backing of BJP rebels.

Stung over the cross-voting in Karnataka, BJP general secretary in-charge of the state, Dharmendra Pradhan asked the state unit to form a committee to thoroughly probe the issue and submit a report. "The party is taking this matter very seriously. Once we get the committee's report we will take appropriate action," he said. The cross-voting comes in the backdrop of intense infighting in the BJP, which forced the party top brass to make Lingayat leader Jagadish Shettar the chief minister 10 days ago. While sources claimed the Bellary Reddy brothers were responsible for the cross-voting, others pointed fingers at former CM B.S. Yeddyurappa who had praised Mr Mukherjee earlier, saying he is a good candidate.

This is not the first time the state BJP has witnessed cross-voting. In the recent MLC elections too, some BJP MLAs had cross-voted but went scot-free as the top brass was unable to take any disciplinary action.

Total votes: 225
Votes polled: 223 (as one MLA resigned, one is a nominated member)
Congress: 71
JD(S): 27
Independents: 5
BJP – 120 (including BSR supporters)

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