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    Halfway to 2024, cross-voting for Droupadi Murmu bursts Oppn's unity bubble in over 10 states

    Halfway to 2024, cross-voting for Droupadi Murmu bursts Oppn's unity bubble in over 10 states

    Halfway to 2024, cross-voting for Droupadi Murmu bursts Oppn's unity bubble in over 10 states
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    By News18.com   IST (Published)

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    Presidential Elections 2022: As per reports, around 125 MLAs from different state Assemblies cross-voted in Droupadi Murmu’s support

    That former Jharkhand governor Droupadi Murmu would be the next President of India, and the first tribal woman to hold the position, was a foregone conclusion even before voting. The Indian presidential election is an indirect one so it cannot be a meter to gauge public sentiment before the 2024 Lok Sabha battle either. What makes this year’s election politically far-reaching is the cross-voting observed in states in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
    The cross-voting seen in states like Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Goa has exposed the superficiality of the Opposition’s united front narrative against the BJP two years before the General Elections. Even before the big battle, some states will head into Assembly elections in the next two years and the voting pattern seen in the presidential elections should alarm the Opposition parties.
    Murmu became India's first tribal President in a one-sided contest against Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. The NDA candidate won by an overwhelming margin after receiving over 64 percent of the valid votes to succeed Ram Nath Kovind as India's 15th President.
    As per reports, around 125 MLAs from different state Assemblies cross-voted in Murmu’s support. Counting of votes also suggests that the former Jharkhand governor was the beneficiary of cross-voting from 17 MPs.
    According to sources, the highest cross-voting took place in Assam at a whopping 22 MLAs. The Congress-led Opposition in the north-eastern state had won 45 seats in the Assembly elections, but the party-led United Progressive Alliance could manage only 20 votes in favour of Sinha. For the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led BJP government, this is good news.
    "It certainly shows that there are many who are not averse to the BJP and that his (Sarma’s) clout within the Opposition is growing," said a party source.
    In Bihar and Chhattisgarh, six MLAs cross-voted for Murmu, while in Goa, the count stood at four.
    In Bihar, the NDA has 127 MLAs, but Murmu received the support of 133 lawmakers, indicating that MLAs from either the Left parties, RJD or Congress switched sides during voting. Chhattisgarh is a 90-member Assembly where the ruling Congress has 71 MLAs, but Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha received 69 votes.
    The numbers are worrying for the Opposition in both states. Tejashwi Yadav's RJD has been hoping that growing rifts between BJP and JD(U) will offer it a chance to make a dent in the ruling alliance in Lok Sabha elections and from thereon carry the momentum to topple the Nitish Kumar government in 2025. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress is bracing for another round of revolt by TS Singhdeo.
    And while the Opposition will be assessing the damage from cross-voting, the BJP can pat itself on the back for ensuring no one from its side breached party lines.
    Take the example of West Bengal where eight BJP MLAs returned to the Trinamool Congress and yet one of the TMC MLAs voted for Murmu. Driving home the point, Leader of Opposition in the state Suvendu Adhikari tweeted to say that four TMC MLAs "ensured that their votes were regarded invalid".
    Poll-bound Gujarat, too, witnessed 10 MLAs from the Opposition camp voting for Droupadi Murmu. In Madhya Pradesh, 19 MLAs cross-voted for the NDA. Maharashtra, where the Eknath Shinde-BJP alliance ousted the Uddhav Thackeray-NCP-Congress government, saw 16 non-NDA lawmakers voting for Murmu.
    In Meghalaya, seven MLAs cross-voted, while the count stood at two in Punjab. Murmu got one extra vote each in Odisha and Rajasthan. In Uttar Pradesh, 12 MLAs voted against party line, and in Uttarakhand, two MLAs cross-voted. Murmu received one vote in Kerala which has no MLA from the BJP.
    BJP sources said the party will study the cross-voting trends to draw up a strategy for the Lok Sabha elections. The data holds key clues on who would be willing to switch sides closer to the big 2024 battle.
    "We always knew the Congress is breaking up, but in want of effective leadership, it seems to be withering away and losing what it had earned. This voting should make Congress and so-called united Opposition more concerned for their future," said a senior BJP leader.
    "Even if we get one extra vote, it is a sign we are doing everything right. Our people are not going anywhere. Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and others have a significant tribal population and there are leaders representing that population. In their hearts, they would like to vote for a tribal," said the source.
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