Maharashtra Rajya Sabha polls: All 285 MLAs cast vote amidst claims, counter-claims of rules violation by MVA, BJP

The BJP fielded Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal, former state minister Anil Bonde and former MP Dhananjay Mahadik. The Sena fielded Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. The NCP fielded Praful Patel while Congress fielded Imran Pratapgarhi

Sanjay JogUpdated: Friday, June 10, 2022, 11:33 PM IST
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Rajya Sabha | Representative Image
  • Counting for 285 votes for six Rajya Sabha delayed after complaints of violation of model code of voting by MVA & BJP against each other

  • ECI, state chief electoral officer, election observer and the returning officer held marathon meetings and checked video shooting

  • Both claimed victory of their candidates as both were banking on the support of independents and smaller parties

  • NCP camp was tense as two of its legislators were not traceable but after Ajit Pawar's call they came and cast their votes

  • In a surprise move, AIMIM declared support for the Congress nominee while Samajwadi Party declared they voted for MVA

Mumbai: Amid claims by both the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the BJP over the victory of their nominees, the polling for six Rajya Sabha seats in Maharashtra on Friday was marked by high-octane drama in and outside the polling station in Vidan Bhavan. The counting of 285 votes was delayed after BJP and MVA complained to the Election Commission of India against each other for a violation of model code of voting.

BJP took serious objection against Cabinet ministers Jitendra Awhad (NCP), Yashomati Thakur (Congress) and Sena legislator Suhas Kande for the violation of the model code for voting, Shiv Sena and Congress also claimed violation by BJP legislator and former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and independent legislator Ravi Rana. Against six Rajya Sabha seats, the BJP has fielded three candidates, the Shiv Sena two and NCP and Congress one each.

The counting was held up as ECI, state chief electoral officer Shrikant Deshpande, election observer and Returning Officer Rajendra Bhagwat held a marathon meeting on the objections raised by both sides and checked the video shooting. The BJP fielded Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal, former state minister Anil Bonde and former MP Dhananjay Mahadik. The Sena fielded Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. The NCP fielded Praful Patel while Congress fielded Imran Pratapgarhi.

"Cabinet ministers Jitendra Awhad (NCP), Yashomati Thakur (Congress) and Sena legislator Suhas Kande violated the model code for voting. We have filed an appeal before the Election Commission of India, seeking that their votes be held invalid," said a state BJP leader.

BJP alleged that Awhad and Thakur handed over their ballots to their party agents instead of only showing them the ballots, while Kande showed his ballot to two different agents.

"Permission is needed from the election commission for the counting. Officials have sent an email to the ECI seeking permission. It should be granted in some time," said Sena minister Eknath Shinde.

"Counting cannot be started until the ECI gives its decision because the winning quota can not be determined till the number of valid votes is finalized," said a constitutional expert.

On the other hand, the Congress party's authorised agent Aamar Rajurkar complained to ECI that Mungantiwar handed over the ballot paper to BJP's authorised agent Chandrashekhar Bawankule and thereby had violated the model code for voting.

On its part, Shiv Sena took objection and complained against an independent legislator Ravi Rana for showing Hanuman Chalisa while casting his vote.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who is the party's nominee, without naming BJP asked who and why the counting has been stopped. ''Who stopped the counting of votes and why? Earlier, ED's innings failed, so BJP has now resorted to such gimmicks,'' he alleged.

Raut claimed that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government under the leadership of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has the support of 169 MLAs. So all our four candidates comprising two Shiv Sena and one each of NCP and Congress will win,'' he claimed.

However, BJP legislators Parag Alavani and Atul Save demanded that three votes of MVA legislators be declared invalid as they allegedly did not follow voting rules.

As per the rules, a legislator has to show the ballot paper to their polling agent, but Awhad and Thakur gave the ballot paper to the hands of their respective polling agents,” said Alavani.

He added, “Suhas Kande showed his ballot paper to the polling agents of two other parties, which is also against the rules. Therefore, we have written to the returning officer against Awhad, Kande and Yashomati Thakur demanding votes be made invalid. The entire process is shot on video, it should be looked into which will show the lapse in procedure and a hearing should be taken.”

However, NCP Minister Jitendra Awhad dismissed BJP's charge saying that, “I was standing behind while NCP's authorised agent Jayant Patil was sitting ahead. Their objection does not matter as it clearly shows BJP is losing.''

Congress Minister Yashomati Thakur said, “BJP has adopted a strategy of creating confusion after they announced that their third candidate is losing. All our four candidates are winning the poll.”

In a setback to NCP minister Nawab Malik, the Bombay High Court bench of Justice Bharati Dangare refused to hear his amended petition which was filed seeking a police escort to take him to Vidhan Bhavan so that he may cast his vote in the Rajya Sabha elections. When Malik's lawyer Tariq Sayed mentioned the petition for an urgent hearing, the bench heard the plea and without making any observations, rose and left. Similarly, former home minister Anil Deshmukh could not cast his vote.

However, MVA received a boost after The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) declared its decision to vote in favour of the Congress candidate. The announcement was made by AIMIM Lok Sabha member from Aurangabad Imtiaz Jaleel hours before the polling slated for 9 am.

"Our two AIMIM Maharashtra MLAs have been asked to vote for Congress candidate Shayar Imran for the Rajya Sabha seat. We extend our best wishes to him! To defeat BJP, our party AIMIM has decided to vote for Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the Rajya Sabha elections in Maharashtra. Our political/ideological differences however will continue with Shiv Sena which is a partner in MVA along with Congress and NCP," Jaleel tweeted.

However, tension was visible in the NCP camp when two of its legislators Anna Bansode and Dilip Mohite were not traceable. After deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar managed to speak to them both came and cast the votes which gave NCP relief. However, Mohite criticised Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for not clearing files pertaining to his constituency.

Further, two of the Samajwadi Party legislators Abu Azmi and Rais Shaikh voted in favour of the MVA. Azmi, who had met Thackeray, said CM has assured to address issues raised by him on a priority basis.

Interestingly, the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi founder Hitendra Thakur, along with two other legislators, cast their votes but declined to reveal to whom they have voted.

As per the poll strategy, NCP has its 42 first preference votes for Praful Patel and the remaining nine for Shiv Sena nominee Sanjay Pawar. Similarly, Congress gave 42 first preference votes to Imran Pratapgarhi and the remaining two in favour of Sanjay Pawar. On its part, Shiv Sena assured 42 first preference votes to Sanjay Raut and 13 to Sanjay Pawar. Pawar was assigned 24 votes while others were lined up from 13 independents and smaller parties.

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