Congress chief whip in the Odisha Assembly, Taraprasad Bahinipati today claimed that there was possibility of some ruling Biju Janata Dal MLAs will vote in favour of opposition candidate Meira Kumar in the presidential elections. The BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister had already announced his party’s support to the NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. “Some BJD MLAs are in touch with us to vote in favour of Meira Kumar,” Bahinipati told reporters. Bahinipati’s statement was supported by another senior Congress MLA Prafulla Majhi. “Cross voting will be possible because there is no whip on the members in the presidential elections. Therefore, the members will vote according to their conscience,” Majhi said.
However, BJD spokesman Sasmit Patra rejected the claim made by Bahinipati and Majhi and said: “There is no such possibilities in BJD. All the MLAs and MPs will go by the party line even though there is no whip.” BJD’s leader in Lok Sabha Bhartuhari Mahatab in a recent newspaper article had expressed concern over the regional party’s support to the NDA candidate. BJD vice-president and Agriculture minister Damaodar Rout, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Maheswar Mohanty and Rajya Sabha MP and party spokesperson Pratap Deb suggested to BJD leaders not to issue such statements which will affect the prospect of the ruling party.