Polling Ends in Haryana, Counting on Hold as BJP Seeks Cancellation of 2 Cong Votes

Counting of votes for the two Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana was put on hold on Friday after the BJP and the Independent candidate backed by it urged the Election Commission to cancel the votes of two Congress MLAs. BJP nominee Krishan Lal Panwar and Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma shot off a missive to the EC, alleging Congress MLAs Kiran Choudhary and B B Batra showed their ballot papers to unauthorised persons after marking them and that the episodes were “duly captured” by the camera installed for the purpose of election.

The counting has been put on hold in view of the complaint made to the Election Commission, sources said, adding that further action would depend on the directions given by the poll body. Of the total 90 members of the Haryana Assembly, 89 cast their votes, officials said at the end of the polling, which began at 9 am. Independent legislator Balraj Kundu abstained from voting.

Congress candidate Ajay Maken, however, urged the chief election commissioner to declare the results, terming the allegations levelled by the BJP and the Independent candidate “false and frivolous”. Maken claimed there was no breach of secrecy or privacy by the two legislators of his party. A BJP delegation also met officials of the commission in the evening in Delhi.

The Independent candidate alleged that several complaints were lodged with Returning Officer R K Nandal but all were rejected without even consulting the state and the central observers appointed by the EC. The Congress candidate meanwhile claimed that the returning officer rejected the objections raised by Sharma and the BJP as there was no breach of secrecy.

While the BJP, with 40 MLAs in the 90-member Haryana Assembly, has nine more than the 31 first preference votes required for a straight win, the contest has become keen for the second seat with the entry of media baron Kartikeya Sharma, an Independent. Kartikeya has the backing of the BJP-JJP combine, most of the Independents, and Gopal Kanda, the lone MLA of the Haryana Lokhit Party.

The Congress has 31 members in the state Assembly, just enough to help its candidate win a seat. The JJP, which is an ally of the BJP, has 10 legislators, while the Indian National Lok Dal and the Haryana Lokhit Party have one each. There are seven Independents.

Two Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana will fall vacant in August with the terms of media baron Subhash Chandra and BJP leader Dushyant Gautam expiring.

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