Amid a series of controversies including a 7-hour delayed counting, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of BJP-backed Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma in the Rajaya Sabha elections in Haryana.
Speaking to reporters after his defeat, Ajay Maken revealed that Congress was ‘legally examining’ the Election Commission’s decision to cancel one crucial Congress vote. He also thanked his MLAs for standing their ground despite temptations, fear and pressures.
“We raised an objection that a vote given to an independent candidate should have been cancelled. It is unfortunate that our vote was cancelled, and their rejected vote was accepted. Our correct vote was cancelled and their wrong vote was accepted. We will get this examined legally. Despite this, we are ahead of them in first preference,” Maken told reporters.
He added, “The MLAs and the people of Haryana have shown faith in Congress. EC for useless reasons held back counting till midnight, so we knew since the beginning that they wanted to delay it. FIRs were filed against MLAs, one had their boundary wall broken down, and others had NWB warrants, ED, and IT Department pressures. Despite all this, our MLAs voted for us.”
Discussing Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi’s clincher vote for the BJP, Maken stated, “He won elections as a Congress candidate, and yet he did not vote for his party. We don’t know what the temptation or fear behind this was, he would be able to answer that.”
In a nail-biting contest that reached the doors of the Election Commission, BJP’s Krishan Lal Panwar and the saffron party-backed Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma won the two Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana. Congress’ Ajay Maken lost to Sharma by a narrow margin after his own party MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi voted for the BJP-backed independent candidate in what he described as a calling of his ‘inner soul’.
Speaking to reporters about the voting in the Rajya Sabha elections, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar shared that Congress got 29 votes, while Kartikeya Sharma got 29.65 votes. Explaining Sharma’s vote, he said that the media baron got 23 votes, while 6.65 votes of Krishan Panwar were transferred to him as per the preferential voting system, which made him victorious.
Sources have claimed that there was a divide in the Haryana Congress over Ajay Maken’s candidature as several MLAs saw the senior Congress leader as an ‘outsider’ and believed that candidates belonging to Haryana must be elected.