Updated: December 15, 2021 7:36:37 am
In a setback to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena and Congress lost the Akola-Bundhana-Washim and Nagpur Legislative Council seats for which results were declared Tuesday. The BJP won both, indicating that it is consolidating its position in the Vidarbha region.
The Election Commission had announced polling for six Maharashtra Legislative Council seats, from five local constituencies, on December 10. Four seats were subsequently won unopposed, with the BJP taking two and the Congress and Sena one each.
Akola-Bundhana-Washim, from where the Sena lost on Tuesday, had been won by it the past three times. Its three-term sitting legislator Gopikishan Bajoria lost to the BJP’s Vasant Khandelwal by 109 votes.
In Nagpur, the BJP’s Chandrashekhar Bawankule won against Congress-backed Independent candidate Mangesh Deshmukh. The Congress had announced support for Deshmukh at the last minute, after its official candidate and former RSS leader Ravindra Bhoyar reportedly expressed his inability to contest. Bawankule won by 176 votes.
According to Sena leaders, of the total 822 local body representatives who voted for the seat, 130 belonged to the Sena, 191 to the Congress, 91 to the NCP, 242 to the BJP, and the remaining to smaller parties and Independents. “Going by the MVA votes, we could have won easily,” the leader added. Another leader blamed anti-incumbency and local-level factionalism.
The Congress defeat is as embarrassing for the party, especially its Maharashtra chief Nana Patole. The Congress had created huge hype around its success in weaning Bhoyar away from the RSS. Sources in the party said Bhoyar did not contribute as much as he should have in the elections, forcing them to turn to an Independent.
Putting up a brave face, Patole argued that as the seat was currently held by the BJP, the party actually did not “lose anything”. “There is no difference in the votes that the Congress got,” he said, adding: “While our candidate was poor, the BJP candidate was financially strong. Even though he had more than 90 votes, all the candidates were taken away by them to keep their flock together and they had to resort to horse-trading. This is really a moral defeat for the BJP,” Patole said.
Sena and Congress leaders also asserted that results of the two MLC seats would not have any impact on the local body polls to be held early next year. “In these polls, the elected representatives of local bodies vote for the candidate, and not the people,” said a Sena leader.
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