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The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi faces a challenge in Legislature Council Polls

by Raju Vernekar
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By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, June 20:

The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is facing a challenge of ensuring the victory of all its candidates in the election to 10 seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) slated to be held on Monday, June 20 at Vidhan Bhavan in South Mumbai.
The members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly will cast their votes to elect the 10 candidates to the Maharashtra Legislative Council, the Upper House of the state legislature.
Having fielded one additional candidate each, both Congress and the BJP are depending upon the votes of Independents and smaller parties. Relatively the position of the Shiv Sena is safe and has one surplus vote. The NCP requires one additional vote, which it can get from the Shiv Sena. 
The 11 candidates fielded for the 10 seats are Shiv Sena- Sachin Ahir (Mumbai, former Minister), Amshya Phulji Padvi (Nandurbar, North Maharashtra), NCP-Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar (Satara) (Chairman of the MLC), Eknath Khadse (formerly in BJP, former Minister). Congress- Chandrakant Handore (Former Mumbai Mayor and Minister), Bhai Jagtap (President Mumbai Regional Congress Committee). 
BJP- Pravin Darekar (Mumbai, Formerly in MNS) (Leader of the Opposition in the MLC), Prof Ram Shinde (Ahmednagar, former Minister), Shrikant Bharatiya (Amravati, BJP General Secretary), Prasad Lad (formerly NCP, now BJP (Maharashtra Vice President), Uma Khapre (Pimpri-Chinchwad, President of the BJP Mahila Morcha ).
The candidates are required to secure 27 first preference votes to get elected. The MVA has cumulative strength of 161, whereas the BJP has 123 MLAs with supporting Independent MLAs and the MLAs of smaller parties.
Under the circumstances, two candidates each of Shiv Sena and NCP, one candidate of Congress, and four candidates of BJP are expected to get elected smoothly. However, Congress needs 12 additional votes for its second candidate and the BJP needs 22 additional votes for its 5 th candidate. A fierce competition is anticipated between Bhai Jagtap (Congress) and Prasad Lad (BJP).
Since the MVA could not win the sixth seat( Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Pawar) in the recent Rajya Sabha election due to cross-voting, the MVA leaders are doubly cautious.
In the Rajya Sabha election Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena) skipped through with just 41 votes, whereas the MVA constituent-Mohammed Imran Pratapgarhi (Congress) bagged 44 votes and Praful Patel(NCP) 43 votes. BJP candidates –Piyush Goyal polled 48, Anil Bonde secured 48, and Dhananjay Mahadik captured 41.56, out of the 284 valid votes polled.
The BJP under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis (leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly) has been working overnight to keep the flock of supporting MLAs together to ensure victory of all its 05 candidates.
Strength of parties in the Assembly
The strength of different parties in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly is Shiv Sena-55, NCP-53, Congress-44, BJP-106, independent-13, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi-03, Samajwadi Party-02, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MiM)-02, Prahar Janshakti-02, MNS-01, CPM-01, Swabhimani-01, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha-01, Jansurajya Shakti-01, Peasants and Workers’ Party-01, Krantikari Shetakari Paksha-01= 287 +one seat has fallen vacant after demises of Ramesh Latke)=288.
Of 287 Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh (NCP) are in jail and Kshitij Thakur(BVA) is stated to be abroad. In such circumstances, 284 members will decide the fate of the 11 candidates, and the quota for first preference votes may come down.
In any case, the election will prove once again whether or not the constituents of the MVA Government work in unison and whether smaller parties support it or not.

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