Updated: June 19, 2022 11:43:41 am
Days after the setback of the Rajya Sabha polls, when the BJP cocked a snook at the Shiv Sena by winning the crucial sixth seat, and with a couple of days left for the June 20 elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, the lack of coordination within the Maha Vikas Aghadi is all too evident with each party working separately to secure its vote bank.
With 11 candidates for 10 seats, the contest is inevitable for the tenth seat. While the BJP has fielded five candidates, the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena have put up two candidates each. With the Sena and NCP set to get the numbers to see their candidates through, the fight is likely to boil down to the Congress and the BJP.
So far, the Sena or its chief Uddhav Thackeray has not come up with any combined strategy to get the MVA together or to ensure that all its six candidates are elected.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “We have adequate numbers to get both our candidates elected. We have no problems.” When asked if the Sena would transfer its surplus votes to the Congress, he said, “We will require our votes to secure our candidates. Each party will work for itself.”
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Sources said the Sena is still smarting from its defeat in the Rajya Sabha elections — the party feels the Congress, which had surplus votes, did not transfer those to the Sena candidates, as a result of which its candidate Sanjay Pawar lost to the BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik. Besides, sources said, the party doesn’t want to take chances by giving away its extra votes. After all, in the Rajya Sabha polls, the vote of one of its members was declared invalid.
Each of the candidates will require 25.91 votes to get elected. The Congress has 44 votes. To get both its candidates — Bhai Jagtap and Chandrakant Handore — elected, it needs 52 votes, or eight additional votes from smaller parties and allies. The NCP, which has 51 votes, will need just one additional vote to get its candidates Ramraje Nimbalkar and Eknath Khadse elected.
The Shiv Sena has 55 votes. After getting its two candidates, Aamysha Padavi and Sachin Ahir, elected, it will still be left with three surplus votes, which it could — in a situation where there is no cross-voting or invalid votes — pass on to the Congress.
For the BJP to get all five candidates — Praveen Darekar, Ram Shinde, Shrikant Bharatiya, Uma Khapre and Prasad Lad — elected, it needs 130 votes. With 106 members in the Assembly, it will need an additional 24 votes.
The lack of coordination in the MVA is a sign that the coalition’s already shaky ties have worsened since the Rajya Sabha elections.
A senior Congress leader admitted, “To get our two candidates elected, we will need eight votes from smaller parties and allies. But we have to plan for ourselves as we are unlikely to get any help from the Sena or NCP.”
The BJP, meanwhile, exuded confidence, with party leader Ashish Shelar saying, “We have a fool-proof strategy. We will get the required quota and get all our candidates elected.”
“The court’s decision disallowing NCP members Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh from casting their votes is good news for the BJP. It is a sign that the BJP will emerge victorious,” Shelar added.
Both Malik and Deshmukh are in judicial custody facing trial in two separate money laundering cases. Their pleas to vote during the Rajya Sabha and council polls were rejected by the High Court.
What makes the going tough for the MVA is the unrest and anger against the coalition among smaller parties and Independents, many of whom are aligned with the ruling coalition, who add up to a crucial 29 votes.
The Swabhimani Party’s Devendra Bhuyar on Friday took a dig at the Sena, saying, “I think Sanjay Raut should stay by my side 24×7 so that he is convinced about whom I vote for.” Raut had earlier alleged that Bhuyar had voted for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls. “I have always been loyal to the MVA. Yet, look at how the Sena questioned my commitment,” he added.
Bachhu Kadu, a Minister of State in the MVA and leader of Prahar Jan Shakti, said, “What is this horse-trading that the Sena talks about? Why are we being labeled horses? Does the Sena have any proof to suggest we voted for the BJP?”
Bahujan Vikas Aghadi president Hitendra Thakur said, “Voting is the right of Independent members. We will decide whom to vote for.”
It’s this anger among allies and smaller parties that the BJP hopes to tap into ahead of the council voting.
A senior BJP general secretary, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Nobody can take any elections for granted. But we are hoping we will succeed. In the Rajya Sabha elections, we managed to get 10 MVA votes. Now we need to get seven additional votes from smaller parties aligned to the MVA. It is tough but not impossible.”
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