Asking how "lawmakers could be lawbreakers", director Prakash Jha is contemplating legal action against BJP legislators in Rajasthan who watched a pirated DVD of his film "Raajneeti" while they were locked up in a hotel ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls.
Fearing cross voting in the Rajya Sabha polls June 17, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has put up all its 79 legislators in the hotel to prevent horse trading and defections. "There was fear that the MLAs may not vote for Ram Jethmalani, whom they consider an outsider, so the party decided to huddle them up together and place them in a hotel. This would mean that the chances of horse trading or defection becomes negligible," a BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.
On Thursday, the legislators would be taken directly to the state assembly for voting. While the politics of the move are worked out, filmmaker Jha is furious that the legislators watched a pirated version of his latest film. "We are contemplating legal action against illegal screening of the film," Jha told IANS over the phone. "This is really bad. How can lawmakers be lawbreakers? We in the film industry are really disturbed that a film which has just been released is being screened in such an illegal manner... We are seeking legal advice and would certainly take appropriate action against the hotel and the people who have seen the film in this manner."
As the controversy in the state BJP brews, former chief minister and general secretary Vasundhara Raje told reporters that the legislators had been taken to the resort to "train them on how to vote". "We want to train them on voting as some of our MALs are first timers," Raje said, requesting the Congress "not to indulge in horse trading".
There are five candidates fighting for four seats in the upper house of parliament -- Congress' Anand Sharma and Ashk Ali Tak, BJP's Jethmalani and V.P. Singh as well as sitting Congress MP Santosh Bagrodia who is contesting as an independent. Bagrodia did not get a Congress ticket but is being backed by the party.
Congress nominee Narendra Budhania was elected June 10 for the fifth seat, as he was contesting on a seat declared vacant after the death of BJP MP Srikrishan Valmiki. The outcome of the elections now relies heavily on non-Congress and non-BJP MLAs.
The Congress has 102 legislators in the house of 200 seats while the BJP has 79 members on its side. The BJP will need 82 votes to ensure win for both its candidates. It is confident of getting the support of the lone Janata Dal-U MLA Fateh Singh. The Communist Party of India-Marxist has decided to abstain and the BJP's nominees are likely to sail through if there is no cross voting.