With 115 MLAs voting in his favour, P A Sangma has received more votes from the State than expected. The BJD has a strength of 108 in the 147-member House. The Congress has 27 MLAs, the BJP six members and the CPI has one. Five MLAs are Independents.
Sources in the Congress said three votes from the State were found invalid during counting. Of the three, two were in favour of Sangma and one was for Pranab Mukherjee.
The vote of suspended BJD MLA from Cuttack-Choudwar Prabhat Biswal was rejected by the presiding officer for showing the ballot paper after marking. While the lone CPI MLA from Chhatrapur Adikanda Sethi had abstained, ailing Congress MLA from Kotpad Basudev Majhi could not vote even though he was brought on a stretcher to the Assembly premises. A total of 145 MLAs exercised their franchise. The BJD and the BJP legislators account for 114 votes. Independent MLA from Nilagiri Pratap Sarangi is a BJP supporter.
The four Independent MLAs are George Tirkey, Jitu Patnaik, Braja Kishore Pradhan and Rajendra Sahu. While Jitu and Braja are supporters of the Congress, Rajendra Sahu is inclined towards the BJD. Before the Presidential election, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had called Sahu to his residence and persuaded him to vote for Sangma. However, claiming that the Congress vote has remained intact, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said the overwhelming response towards Mukherjee shows his popularity even among the leaders of the non-Congress parties.
For his part, Naveen congratulated Mukherjee. “We (BJD) were the first to name an Adivasi leader for the highest post of the country. However, Pranab Mukherjee won the election. So, I congratulate him,” Naveen told reporters here on his return from New Delhi.