Legislative assembly

Rajya Sabha polls: In Rajasthan, BJP suspends MP for cross-voting and issues notice

On Friday, BJP MP for Dholpur Shobharani Kushwah surprised everyone by cross-voting for a Congress candidate in Rajya Sabha polls.

As she faces expulsion from the BJP, more than five years ago it was her husband whose Assembly membership was terminated and he was imprisoned, leading to the election by Shobharani.

And now her cross vote is also linked to the imprisonment of her husband, while she herself has not yet provided an explanation.

A second-term MP, Kushwah is the wife of imprisoned former MP BL Kushwah. In December 2016, then Rajasthan Assembly Speaker Kailash Meghwal terminated the Assembly membership of BL Kushwah, then a member of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), after being recognized guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment for “honour” killings.

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Kushwah was disqualified under Article 191 of the Constitution of India, which relates to disqualification from membership in the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a state, read together with Article 8 (Disqualification on Conviction for Certain offences) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The BSP MP from Dholpur was sentenced to life imprisonment by a magistrate’s court in an ‘honour killing’ case in 2012. A Satyendra Singh from Uttar Pradesh, alleged to be a hitman for Kushwah, was also sentenced to life for the murder of a Naresh Kushwaha in Dholpur district. According to the police, BL Kushwah had accused Naresh of being in a relationship with his sister.

Additional District Judge Salim Badar had sentenced Kushwah and Satyendra under Sections 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the CIP while imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 on Kushwah.

In the subsequent Dholpur Assembly indirect vote in early 2017, the BJP fielded Kushwah’s wife, Shobharani Kushwah, who later won the indirect vote. Then in 2018, she was again represented by the BJP from the same seat in the State Assembly elections, and won again.

Reacting to the cross vote, opposition leader Gulab Chand Kataria said: “There will be action. A formal notice will reach him for violation of the whip. No one can deny that the whip was violated since it appears on authorized documents.

Later that day, Kataria suspended her from the list of core party members and sent her a notice asking for a response within seven days, asking why she should not be expelled from the party for indiscipline. Kataria said if she does not respond within seven days, the party will be free to take action against her.

Kushwah could not be reached for comment and had both of her phone numbers turned off.