The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trounced the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition in Maharashtra by winning three out six seats in a fiercely contested battle for the Rajya Sabha.
The ruling government’s inability to win four seats is now being blamed on the independents and smaller parties who are believed to have ditched the MVA over the manner of functioning of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. The Shiv Sena however has rejected the theory and blamed the loss on horse-trading by the BJP.
Elated by the victory of all three party candidates — Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik — the Leader of Opposition in Assembly Devendra Fadnavis advised Mr. Thackeray to introspect on the internal fraction in the MVA. “Some MLAs who had earlier supported MVA came to us and requested not to withdraw our third candidate. They told us that they wanted to show their power to the CM,” Mr. Fadnavis said at a press conference on Saturday.
‘Along expected lines’
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said he was not shocked as votes have been on expected lines. “We also need to accept that Devendra Fadnavis managed to bring independent MLAs to his side. We couldn’t do that,” he said, adding that the result won’t affect the stability of MVA.
Seven candidates were in the fray for six seats from Maharashtra. The BJP staked claim on three seats while the MVA fielded four candidates. The battle for sixth seat was between Sanjay Pawar (Sena) and Dhananjay Mahadik (BJP). In the first round, Imran Pratapgarhi of Congress (44 votes), Praful Patel of NCP (43 votes), Sanjay Raut of Sena (41 votes) and Piyush Goyal and Anil Bonde (both BJP) (with 48 votes each) were declared winners. The quota for the victory was 41 votes. Mr. Pawar and Mr. Mahadik won 33 and 27 seats first choice votes respectively. Mr Mahadik received seven extra votes each from Mr. Goyal and Mr. Bonde, ensuring his victory.
The poll process witnessed a delay of over nine hours for counting to start due to a demand to cancel votes, appeal for the same to the Central Election Commission and micro-management by the BJP which helped it to win this battle of prestige.
The results also show that the BJP has managed to snatch at least 10 votes from the MVA. Independents and smaller parties which had earlier pledged allegiance to the MVA seem to have backtracked on the word and voted for the BJP.
No discontent: Raut
Mr. Raut, who rejected the theory of discontent against Mr. Thackeray said that the shift of vote was purely a result of horse-trading. “I can tell you the names of MLAs who ditched us. We knew that it was a tight race, but we lost due to horse-trading,” he said. Mr. Raut named independent MLAs Devendra Bhuyar, Shyamsunder Shinde, Sanjay Shinde and three others of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) for voting to the BJP. Mr. Bhuyar however rejected the claims. According to sources, BVA’s president and MLA Hitendra Thakur and MLA Sanjay Shinde are under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) scanner. Mr. Thakur after voting had said that he has voted for the winning side.
On Friday morning, MVA suffered a shock after the court refused to grant permission to the jailed NCP MLAs, Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, to vote for the election. With death of one of the Sena MLAs the ruling MVA was already facing a tough task of achieving the quota of 41 and the situation turned grave for the MVA with CEC invalidating one vote of Sena MLA, Suhas Kande, after BJP’s complaint. This was the fourth vote that MVA lost.