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Monday, November 23, 2020

Explained: BJP’s candidate selection dilemma for Maharashtra State Legislature Council polls

A power tussle is simmering within the state unit of the BJP ahead of the Maharashtra State Legislative Council Teacher and Graduate constituency polls, scheduled to be held on December 1.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Updated: November 9, 2020 8:29:04 am
Maharashtra State Legislature Council polls, bjp power tussle, BJP unit candidate, BJP candidate for legislature council polls, indian expressWhile Gadkari is keen on retaining sitting MLC Anil Sole, Fadnavis wants former Nagpur Municipal Corporation mayor Sandeep Joshi as official candidate for the Graduate constituency in the Nagpur division. (Express Photo/File)

A power tussle is simmering within the state unit of the BJP ahead of the Maharashtra State Legislative Council Teacher and Graduate constituency polls, scheduled to be held on December 1. The Opposition BJP, which is set to lose its upper hand in the council to Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena combine, is facing challenges in selection of candidates.

What are the Graduate and Teacher constituency elections in the state legislative council?

There are seven states, including Maharashtra, which have a two-tier state legislature – State Legislative Assembly and State Legislative Council. The Maharashtra Legislative Council, also called the upper house, has 78 seats. Of the total 78 seats, seven seats each are set aside for Graduate and Teacher constituencies. These constituencies are in Mumbai, Pune, Konkan, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Amravati and Nashik divisions.

The election for 30 seats are held through state assembly members, while local bodies across Maharashtra elect 22 others. The Governor nominates 12 candidates from the field of art, literature, music, social work and cooperative sector.

Who can contest the Teacher and Graduate constituency polls?

Candidates for these elections should hold a minimum graduate qualification, and they can represent any mainstream political party or can even contest as an independent candidate.

Who can vote?

Unlike the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls where there is an age criteria of 18 years or above, Graduate and Teacher elections have specified a few additional qualifications.

In a Graduate constituency poll, the voter must be a graduate from a recognized university of India. For the Teacher constituency, the voter should be a full-time teacher. The process of voter registration and enrollment is separately done.

Another distinction is that the area covered by a candidate is not restricted to a demarcated assembly or Lok Sabha constituency. Instead, every Graduate and Teacher constituency covers an entire revenue division. For example, a candidate contesting for Pune will have voters across Sangli, Satara which comes within the revenue division. The members are elected for a term of six years.

What are December 1 polls?

The election commission has announced biennial elections for three Graduate constituencies – Aurangabad, Pune and Nagpur and two Teacher constituencies – Pune and Amravati on December 1. The counting of votes will take place on December 3.

Why are these elections important?

Although the elections are being held for five seats, both ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising Congress, NCP and Shiv will try to compete with opposition BJP. These elections are important in retaining an upper hand in the state council which is crucial when it comes to determining the passage of important bills.

What is the power tussle within BJP?

The power play between opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari in candidate selection in Nagpur has already begun. While Gadkari is keen on retaining sitting MLC Anil Sole, Fadnavis wants former Nagpur Municipal Corporation mayor Sandeep Joshi as official candidate for the Graduate constituency in the Nagpur division.

Similarly, Aurangabad and Pune Graduate constituencies have emerged as conflict points between state BJP president Chandrakant Patil and Fadnavis. A senior party functionary revealed Patil wants to pick his loyalist for Graduate constituencies. As a result, former ministers and seniors who want a say in their respective districts and regions have rallied around Fadnavis to push their candidates. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

In Pune Graduate constituency, former MLA Medha Kulkarni is upset with Patil as she was denied ticket from Kothrud constituency in the 2019 Assembly polls. Chandrakant Patil contested from her seat and won. She was hoping that the party would reward her with an MLC seat.

The Aurangabad Graduate constituency has a long list of aspirants – from former MLA Jaisinghrao Gaikwad, Praveen Ghuge to Shirish Boralkar.

What does it mean to Maha Vikas Aghadi?

The BJP is the single largest party with 23 seats in the 78-member house. The Shiv Sena has 14; NCP 10; Congress 9; Peasant and Workers Party 1; Rashtriya Samaj Party 1; Lok Bharati 1; Independents 4. There were 12 vacancies.

However, the equation is set to change. The list of nominated members submitted to the Governor for consent has four candidates each from the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena. This will increase their strength to 45.

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