Prez poll: Vote of suspended BJD MLA rejected

Bhubaneswar: Suspended BJD MLA Prabhat Biswal`s vote in presidential election was rejected for allegedly showing the ballot paper after voting as polling in the 147-member state assembly was under way today.

The vote of Biswal, suspended from the ruling BJD for anti-party activities after the failed coup bid against the Naveen Patnaik Government in May, was rejected by Presiding Officer Amiya Sarangi. Biswal`s vote was rejected on the ground that his ballot paper was shown to the presiding officer after the legislator from Cuttack-Chowdwar had cast his vote, Sarangi said adding that as per rules one cannot show the ballot paper before dropping it in the box.

Biswal, however, claimed that the ballot paper needed to be folded four times before being dropped in the box while he had folded it twice and would have completed the process before putting it in the box. "It was not a deliberate act. It simply did not occur to me," Biswal said. BJD`s agent present in the polling booth also did not raise any objection to the decision of the presiding officer to reject Biswal`s vote.

Another suspended MLA of BJD Bibhuti Balabantray however voted smoothly. BJD`s Sarada Prasad Nayak, Anjali Behera and Sanjeev Sahoo, who had been dismissed from the ministry after the coup attempt, also voted. The polling saw voting by two members of the ruling BJD – Bijayranjan Singh Bariha and Parsuram Panigrahi – who arrived at the hall in the assembly building in wheel chairs due to their illness.

However, ailing Congress MLA Basudev Majhi who was taken in a strecher, could not vote as he was not in a condition to do so as the presiding officer did not allow someone else to vote on his behalf. BJD-backed independent Rajya Sabha MP A V Swami also cast his vote in the assembly building. The BJD is supporting P A Sangma.