The high-stakes battle for two Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana witnessed a 17-hour long dramatic turn of events. Objections were raised on two Congress votes within first hour of polling that eventually resulted in a delay of counting of votes by more than seven hours. Although the counting began post midnight, yet two rounds of counting had to be done as Congress demanded a recounting.
9 am – polling began for the two Rajya Sabha seats. BJP MLAs were the first ones to cast their vote. Congress MLAs were enroute from New Delhi to Chandigarh by that time.
9:30 am – objections were raised on BB Batra’s vote by JJP’s election agent Digvijay Chautala who alleged breach of secrecy of ballot. Polling took its first halt. However, the objection was rejected by the Returning Officer and polling resumed.
10 am – Kuldeep Bishnoi reached Vidhan Sabha and cast his vote. It was apparent that he was not going to follow his party-line because other Congress MLAs had to come to Vidhan Sabha, together in a bus. Kiran Choudhry, too, had cast her vote but objections were raised by Digvijay Chautala and others on her vote, accusing her of breach of secrecy of the ballot. However, Returning Officer RK Nandal rejected the objections and allowed Choudhry to cast her vote. Talking to , Kiran Choudhry said, “there was a disruption created by Digvijay Chautala. These people (EC) had created extremely shoddy and thin cardboard sheets as partitions. I had only shown my vote to our observer. He (Digvijay) was sitting in the next partition and claimed that he saw my vote or I showed it to him. He demanded that my vote needs to be disqualified. But I told the EC that it is ridiculous. What kind of partitions have you made. Unless I sit in the observer’s lap and show him my vote, the person who is sitting in the next cubicle can easily get out of his chair and see the vote. That’s what he (Digvijay) did. He stood out of his chair and started creating ruckus. But I went ahead and polled my vote.”About Batra, whose vote also came under doubt, she said, “I feel that a similar thing was done with B B Batra, too but I am not sure. This is a strategy being played by these people (BJP-JJP) to wrongfully disqualify certain votes and get what they wanted.”
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10:30 am – several BJP and JJP MLAs reached Vidhan Sabha in a bus and started casting their vote
11 am – Congress MLAs from New Delhi had reached Hooda’s residence. They were offered tea, snacks and breakfast after which they all reached Vidhan Sabha. Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son and Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda tweeted – “Ajay Maken will win in this Rajya Sabha election. Kuldeep Bishnoi is a Congress MLA, I believe he has voted for Congress”.
11:30 am – By 1130 am, Congress MLAs led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda reached Vidhan Sabha and held a brief meeting. Till that time a total of 28 out of 90 MLAs from across the party lines had already cast their vote.
12 noon – Independent MLA Randhir Gollen stated that Congress candidate Ajay Maken is an outsider, which is why he won’t win. “Even Congress MLAs feel that the party’s nominee should have been from Haryana and not an outsider. Things will be absolutely clear by 5 pm,” he said. “Kuldeep Bishnoi will not vote for Congress and another Congress vote has been disqualified,” Gollen claimed.
12:15 pm – It was INLD’s Abhay Chautala who first hinted that “there was a bigger plan working”. “I have voted for Kartikeya (Sharma). I have also congratulated him. I wish from my heart that he wins. The manner in which Congress has treated its MLAs clearly show the party doesn’t even trust it’s own MLAs, that’s why all of them were taken to a resort. The kind of game that Congress played last time (2016) when several of its were cancelled; this time there appears to be a bigger game plan working. It’s surprising that Congress doesn’t trust it’s own MLAs and fear that they would indulge in cross voting or succumb to alleged horse trading”, Abhay Chautala said after casting his vote.
12:30 pm – Independent Haryana MLA Balraj Kundu abstains from voting. “I can not vote for the BJP’s candidate because these people have looted the State. I will not vote for Kartikeya Sharma because he is a candidate supported by people who are drenched in corruption. But then does it mean that should I vote for Congress candidate. My inner conscience, however, asked me that why couldn’t Congress find even a single suitable candidate from Haryana. Why did they have to get an outsider (Maken) and nominate him from our State. This is an insult to our Haryana. Thus, I have decided that I’ll not cast my vote and shall stay absent. I will not vote for anybody”, Balraj Kundu said outside Vidhan Sabha premises.
1:30 pm – Bhupinder Singh Hooda was the last one to cast his vote. Till this time, 89 out of 90 MLAs had polled their votes.
From 130 pm till 4 pm – Haryana: MLAs across party lines kept expressing confidence over their respective nominee’s victory. Congress MLA Neeraj Sharma said, “Congress nominee Ajay Maken shall definitely win. We shall get more votes than required”. Congress nominee Ajay Maken said, “I shall win, 200 per cent. There is no doubt on that”. Another Congress MLA Bishan Lal Saini said, “No cross voting took place in Congress. BJP should watch out for its own MLAs. Congress is getting at least 35 votes. If this number turns out to be incorrect, I will get my mustache shaved”. Congress MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi said, “I have voted as per my inner conscience. I showed my vote to the party observer”. On the other hand, JJP’s Ram Kumar Gautam said, “I have voted for Kartikeya Sharma and there is no doubt that Sharma will definitely win. Congress is not able to get the required numbers”. Earlier in the day, BJP’s senior leaders Anil Vij, Kanwarpal Gujjar and Sandeep Singh had claimed that both – BJP’s nominee Krishan Panwar and BJP supporter Independent candidate Kartikeya Sharma will win
Two senior BJP leaders Anil Vij and BJP state president Om Prakash Dhankar tried to persuade Balraj Kundu, asking him to come back to Vidhan Sabha and cast his vote, but he did not come.
4 pm – Polling time concluded and counting of votes had to commence at 5 pm. But, before the counting could begin, Kartikeya Sharma filed objection and flagged it to Chief Election Commission accusing Returning Officer RK Nandal of not conducting a “fair” election. BJP backed him and announced that a four-minister delegation shall be meeting CEC at New Delhi.
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5 pm – Counting of votes could not begin since candidates have raised objections.
5:30 pm – BJP’s delegation meets CEC and requested for disqualification of two Congress votes. Meanwhile, Congress nominee Ajay Maken too wrote to CEC countering Kartikeya Sharma’s objections and sought that both the votes be held valid, counting should begin and result be declared. Minutes later, Congress announced that a delegation led by former union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal will also meet CEC.
6:30 pm – Congress delegation also meets CEC and raised its concerns.
From 630 pm (June 10) till 1230 am (June 11) – counting of votes could not take place. During this time CEC summoned the video footage of the polling and it was only after 1230 that a clearance to begin counting of votes was given.
2 am – Result was declared and Congress started celebrating considering that Maken had won. However, the Election Commission officials informed Congress that it was not Maken, but Sharma had won. Congress demanded recounting., which was conducted and final result was announced that Krishan Panwar and Kartikeya Sharma had won and one vote was rejected.
2:30 am – Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar reached Vidhan Sabha and congratulated both the candidates.
3 am – Venod Sharma spoke to the media persons present there and said that he thank all the MLAs for supporting Kartikeya. In response to a query, he also said that he thank Kuldeep Bishnoi, too.
4 am – Winners Krishan Panwar and Kartikeya Sharma came out after completing the legal formalities