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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Jul 18, 2017, 12:17 AM; last updated: Jul 18, 2017, 12:17 AM (IST)

All MLAs but one vote in presidential election

Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, July 17

The elected J&K legislators, barring one, today voted through a secret ballot to elect the new President of India.

As the process to elect the country’s 14th President started at 10 am, Congress legislator GN Saroori was first to vote while Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was the last. Mehbooba arrived in Kashmir in the afternoon after meeting Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was the third legislator to vote at 10:20 am, officials said. The five-year term of the incumbent President, Pranab Mukherjee, will expire on July 24.

The voting continued for the whole day inside the Legislative Assembly complex where authorities had made foolproof arrangements.

However, Independent legislator Engineer Rashid abstained from voting, saying Mukherjee betrayed him for not granting clemency to 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

“I abstained from voting because Pranab Mukherjee didn’t keep his promise of not hanging Afzal Guru,” Rashid told The Tribune.

Legislative Assembly Secretary MR Singh, who was the Assistant Returning Officer, made several attempts to persuade him to vote but he refused to turn up for voting.

Rashid had submitted a memorandum to Mukherjee in 2012, seeking clemency for Guru. The 43-year-old Guru was hanged and buried in Tihar Jail in New Delhi on February 9, in a secret operation named ‘Operation Three Star, after spending over a decade there. “Mukherjee didn’t keep his word and betrayed us,” Rashid said.

The 87 legislators of the J&K Assembly are eligible to vote, with each MLA having a vote value of 72. The eight MPs of the state voted in Parliament.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee, Ram Nath Kovind, is pitted against opposition’s candidate Meira Kumar. Both Kovind, a former Bihar Governor, and Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, had held a series of meetings across states to garner support for their candidature. However, the electoral college for the post of President which includes MPs of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and elected MLAs of all states is tilted towards Kovind.

Out of 87 MLAs, the PDP-BJP coalition has 56 MLAs while the National Conference has 15, Congress 12 and CPI (Marxist) 1. The remaining three Independent legislators Hakim Mohammad Yasin, Pawan Gupta and Engineer Rashid had not made their support public.

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