While all eyes were on the crucial Presidential election on Monday, Odisha Congress MLA from the Barabati-Cuttack constituency Mohammed Moquim voted for NDA candidate Draupadi Murmu despite his party’s decision to back Yashwant Sinha.
Soon after casting his vote, the legislator said that he chose the “daughter of the soil” for the country’s top constitutional post.
Moquim spoke to the media after casting his vote in room no. 54 at the Odisha legislative assembly.
“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. Several eminent persons had called and urged me to support a tribal lady. As there is no whip, the MLAs have the right to vote as per their wish. 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,” said Moquim.
Voting took place by secret ballot in Parliament and state legislatures across the country until 5 pm.
State Congress president Sarat Pattanayak said, “No whip was issued to the MLAs but the party high command had clearly notified Yashwant Sinha as our candidate and all had agreed to vote for him. The matter will be discussed and put before the party high command. Whatever the high command decides, we will abide by the decision on the issue.”
Commenting on the matter, senior MLA and Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra said, “Moquim voting against the party’s decision has been reported to our high command. It will be inquired into and the party will take the final call on this matter.”
Murmu looks set to be the first President from a tribal community in the direct contest with Yashwant Sinha, as several non-NDA parties have come out in her support. She was born in a Santali family in Uparbeda village of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.
BJP MLA Jay Narayan Mishra said, “The decision that has been taken by Mohammed Moquim is appreciated. We welcome it. He has taken a decision in view of the state’s interest.”
Dhruva Sahu, MLA from the state’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), said, “We appealed to all to vote for Draupadi Murmu as the daughter of the soil. We congratulate it and welcome it.”
The Congress has nine legislators in the 147-member Odisha assembly. BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik had appealed to all the members of the legislative assembly, cutting across party lines, to extend unanimous support to elect the “daughter of Odisha”, Draupadi Murmu, to the country’s highest office.