Five candidates of Maharashtra’s ruling alliance and five of the BJP got elected to the Legislative Council today amid cross-voting by MLAs believed to be on the government side. The contest for the 10th seat was a prestige battle for the state’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi after the upset in the recently held Rajya Sabha election, where the Shiv Sena candidate was defeated.
Shiv Sena candidates Sachin Ahir and Amshya Padvi won. So did Eknath Khadse and Ramraje Nimbalkar from Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party. BJP’s Shrikant Bharti, Praveen Darekar, Uma Khapre and Ram Shinde won too.
BJP’s Prasad Lad also managed to pull off a win for the fifth seat with the cross-voting
“I thank Devendra Fadnavis who made this battle plan,” Mr Lad told NDTV. Calling the results a “defeat” for the MVA and the Shiv Sena, he said it was the time for the MVA to “go sit under a tree” as advised by Sena’s Sanjay Raut.
Asked how he accounted for the defections and the cross voting, he said, “The Chief Minister does not meet anyone. The MVA does not work. They don’t have time for anyone and the MVA is corrupt”.
The result for the lone seat for which two Congress candidates were vying was the last to be declared. Congress’s Chandrakant Handore lost the election to Bhai Jagtap, even though the Mumbai Congress chief was at number two and Mr Handore was at number one in terms of first preference votes.
Sources said 44 Congress MLAs were present in the assembly, but the results made it clear that only 41 MLAs have voted for the Congress in first preference. Three Congress MLAs have cross-voted.
The counting, set to begin at 5 pm, was delayed by over two hours after the Congress raised objection to the votes cast by BJP MLAs Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap. The two ailing opposition legislators had cast their votes with the help of assistants, which the Congress objected to. The Election Commission, however, brushed off the party’s objections.
Altogether, 11 candidates were in the race for 10 seats in the Legislative Council, with MVA allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress fielding two candidates each. The BJP nominated five candidates.
While nine candidates were assured of a victory, given the parties’ strength in the state assembly, the main contest was between Congress’s Mumbai President Bhai Jagtap and BJP’s Prasad Lad.
Each candidate required the support of at least 26 MLAs to win, and the 29 MLAs of smaller parties or independents will play a crucial role in the elections.