Mumbai: In another setback for the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra, the opposition BJP on Monday won all five seats it contested in the state Legislative Council election, while Congress’s Chandrakant Handore, a former minister and a Dalit leader, lost.
As two candidates each of MVA allies Shiv Sena and NCP, including former BJP leader Eknath Khadse, also won, Congress leader and minister Balasaheb Thorat said the party can not blame others as its own MLAs did not vote for its candidate.
MVA partner Congress managed to bag just one seat.
Ten Council seats were up for grabs and 11 candidates were in the fray for the elections, which came days after the Rajya Sabha polls, which saw the BJP handing an embarrassing defeat to the Shiv Sena-led ruling coalition.
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While the BJP had enough numbers in the Assembly to get four nominees elected to the Council easily, its fifth candidate Prasad Lad, too, made it to the Upper House of the state legislature after securing support from MLAs outside his party’s pool of legislators.
Eight candidates, four of the BJP and two each of the Shiv Sena and NCP, secured a minimum quota of 26 votes each to win in the first round of voting, said an official.
Chairman of Legislative Council and NCP candidate Ramraje Nimbalkar, Leader of Opposition in the Council Pravin Darekar of the BJP and former BJP minister and now NCP nominee Eknath Khadse won in the first round.
Both the candidates of the Shiv Sena — Sachin Ahir and Aamshya Padavi – also won, while the two nominees of the Congress failed to secure the minimum quota of first preference votes.
The BJP had fielded Darekar, Ram Shinde, Uma Khapre, Shrikant Bharatiya, and Prasad Lad – of which the first four bagged the minimum quota of votes in the first round.
The fifth candidate of the BJP — Lad — and Congress nominee Bhai Jagtap secured the sufficient number of votes in the second round.
The second Congress candidate, Chandrakant Handore, secured 22 first preference votes, while his party colleague Jagtap got 19, but the latter managed to get more second preference votes.
Handore could not make it to the finishing line.
“In the Rajya Sabha elections, we managed to win first preference votes of 123 MLAs but in this election, we managed to win 134 votes. This is an indication of unrest among MLAs against the state government,” BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after the results were out.
“No one can be blamed when we don’t get our first preference votes. We can’t blame anyone. We have to look within….We have to introspect where we have gone wrong. We, as the government, have to introspect,” said Congress leader and state minister Balasaheb Thorat.
Congress candidates secured 41 preference votes against the 44 votes the party had.
Sanjay Nirupam, another Congress leader, said there was an “internal sabotage.” NCP leader Jayant Patil alleged that there was horse-trading, while party MP Supriya Sule said the BJP won because of “MED” (Money and Enforcement Directorate).
The BJP has 106 MLAs in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, while the remaining votes for its candidates have either come from independent MLAs or those from small parties or from other parties.
Atul Bhatkhalkar, an MLA of the BJP said, “Darekar secured 29 votes of first preference, while Ram Shinde and Bharatiya secured 30 votes of first preference each. It means, our excess votes of top three candidates on the list were transferred to our fifth candidate Prasad Lad.” Earlier in the day, voting was held between 9 am and 4 pm at the Legislature Complex in south Mumbai.
All 285 eligible MLAs took part in the polling process, but two votes were invalidated.
The counting of votes began after a two-hour delay at around 7 pm.
The results of the Council polls have come as a major boost to the opposition BJP, which just 10 days ago, managed to win a third Rajya Sabha seat from Maharashtra despite lacking in numbers in the Assembly and in the process defeated its former ally Shiv Sena. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party had fielded two candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls, but one of them, Sanjay Pawar lost.
The latest outcome has once again raised questions over the cohesiveness and coordination among the MVA allies – the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress.