Vikash Sharma

At a time when all eyes were on the crucial Presidential election, Odisha Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim stoked serious speculations in the political corridors in the state on Monday by saying that he voted in favour of the NDA's pick for the Presidential election, Draupadi Murmu.

Soon after casting his vote, the Barabati-Cuttack legislator clarified that he chose the daughter of the soil for the country's top most constitutional post.

“I took such a decision as an Odia. When the daughter of the soil was contesting for the top post, I decided to vote for her. As there is no whip, the MLAs have right to vote as per their wish,” said Moquim.

Elaborating on the decision to support Murmu, Moquim said several eminent persons had called and urged him to support a tribal lady. 

“I have listened to my conscience and the people of Odisha will support my move. I will feel proud if my vote ensures Murmu’s win,” clarified Moquim.

While responding to a media query whether the decision is an indication towards inclination towards the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Moquim said, “Draupadi Murmu is an Odia and I have done my duty. It is my personal decision and there is no other reason or pressure.”

Responding to a question whether there is any rift in Congress, Moquim refuted by saying, “There is no such issues and we are all in the Congress and with the party.”

Meanwhile, Moquim’s move has not gone down well with the party’s other leaders. Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra said, “We had decided to vote for Yashwant Sinha. No whip is issued for Presidential Election.”

Condeming Moquim’s move, Congress MLA Santosh Saluja said, “We should have voted as per party lines not by listening to our conscience. Several meetings were held and all MLAs of the party had assured to voted for Yashwant Sinha. We will bring the matter to the notice of party high command for necessary acton.”

Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “Moquim is a senior Congress leader and we condemn his move. PCC President Sarat Pattnayak and other leaders had discussed the matter with all MLAs. We cannot say what prompted him to change stand.”

Bahinipati further said that it clearly shows that Mohammad Moquim is unhappy within the Congress and it is high command to decide on it.

Commenting on the matter, PCC President Sarat Pattnayak said, “No whip was issued to the MLAs but party high command had clearly notified Yashwant Sinha was our candidate and all had agreed to vote from him.”

Pattanayak further said that he is aware of the statements made by Moquim. “The matter will be discussed and put before the party high command. Whatever high command decides, we will abide by the decision on the issue," he added.