Cross-voting in the presidential election by MLAs from the Opposition in a number of states helped the National Democratic Alliance’s Ram Nath Kovind increase his lead on Meira Kumar, which eventually helped him win.

Eight Congress MLAs in Gujarat and three in Goa voted for Kovind, The Indian Express reported on Friday. In Jharkhand, too, the NDA candidate received votes from two MLAs who were supposed to cast their ballots for the Opposition’s candidate Meira Kumar, The Telegraph reported. Four MLAs also cast invalid votes, which helped Kovind win indirectly.

In Maharashtra, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party alliance has 83 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly. However, Kumar received just 77 votes. State Congress President Ashok Chavan said it was difficult to determine who had cross-voted.

However, in Rajasthan, the Congress claimed that six Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs had voted in the Opposition’s candidate’s favour. While the Congress has 24 MLAs in the state Assembly and got the support of two Bahujan Samaj Party legislators and two independents, Kumar received 34 votes.

Since the presidential election is held through a secret ballot, the identities of those who cross-voted cannot be ascertained. Cross-voting is not forbidden in a presidential poll, and MLAs do not have to follow their party’s orders as there is no official whip issued.

In West Bengal, where the BJP has three MLAs, Kovind received 11 votes. In Uttar Pradesh, Kumar got just 65 votes, though the combined strength of the Opposition stands at 73. In Delhi, two Aam Aadmi Party MLAs cross-voted, granting Kovind six instead of four votes. In Assam, Kumar should have got 39 votes, but managed to get only 35.

However, in Arunachal Pradesh, where 43 out of 44 Congress MLAs had left the party, Kumar received three votes. “I am the only [Congress] MLA here,” said former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki. “It is good we got three votes.”

Meira Kumar breaks record

Meanwhile, Meira Kumar broke a 50-year-old record by polling the highest number of votes for a losing candidate in a presidential election since 1967, reported NDTV. Kumar secured 3.67 lakh votes out of a total 10.69 lakh valid votes counted.

Former Chief Justice of India Koka Subba Rao, who contested the 1967 election as the Opposition’s candidate for president, had secured 3.63 lakh votes.