The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AGP cracks over Pratibha

July 19: The presidential poll threw up a wide array of surprises all across the country, and the Northeast was no exception.

For one, the elections split open the fragile unity in the Opposition AGP, as 15 of its legislators and one MP participated in the presidential election. A total of 116 MLAs and one MP in Assam voted in the election for the top post today.

The AGP is a partner of the United National Progressive Alliance, which had decided to abstain from the presidential polling. Fifteen AGP members voted for NDA nominee Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Of the 126 MLAs in the House, only 10 did not vote. Of these 10, nine belonged to the AGP. Party president Brindaban Goswami abstained from voting.

All 60 members of the Assembly and three MPs of Manipur cast their votes in Imphal from 10am till 3.15pm. In Aizawl, the voting process was over by noon, with the Mizo National Front (MNF) and its ally the Mizoram Congress Party abstaining from voting. Despite being in the government, the ruling parties abstained as they were nursing a grouse against the Centre and Vice-President Shekhawat.

All nine Congress legislators cast their votes as well as the two legislators each from the Mizoram People’s Conference and the Zoram Nationalist Party, all supporting UPA candidate Pratibha Patil.

In Kohima, 57 out of the 60 MLAs cast their votes. Two MLAs participated in the presidential elections in New Delhi. Legislator Huska Sumi, who is undergoing treatment, did not vote.

In Tripura, Pratibha Patil missed just one vote: that of tribal welfare minister Jiten Chowdhury, who is in China. All the other 59 members of the Tripura Assembly cast their votes in favour of the UPA candidate.

Meghalaya chief minister D.D. Lapang and 49 MLAs cast their votes in the presidential election. Meghalaya has a 60-member Assembly.

Elsewhere, not only did NDA constituents like the Trinamul Congress abstain from voting, a group of “dissident” MLAs in Gujarat openly declared that they had voted for Congress candidate Pratibha Patil to spite chief minister Narendra Modi.

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