Mumbai: With the BJP’s decision to field a third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, both the BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) on Monday swung into action to lure independents and smaller parties. For six seats, there are now seven candidates. Incidentally, both the BJP and the MVA claimed victory for their candidates.
The BJP’s nominees included Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik, while Shiv Sena has fielded Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. The NCP has renominated Praful Patel and Congress has fielded poet and youth leader Imran Pratapgarhi from Uttar Pradesh.
The Sena is banking on its excess votes in addition to transfer of votes by allies NCP and Congress and also supported by independents and smaller parties. State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said that victory of BJP’s nominees is a foregone conclusion as the party has already mobilised 12 additional votes.
In the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the MVA has support of 168 legislators comprising the Shiv Sena (55), the NCP (53), the Congress (44), other parties (8) and independents (8). However, the NCP’s strength will be reduced to 51 as two of its ministers, Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, are currently in jail. So the MVA’s strength will be 166.
In the BJP’s case, which has 106 legislators, it has the support of one legislator each of Jan Surajya and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and five independents. Together, the BJP has a strength of 113 legislators. The quota is 41.01 votes for the election of one candidate.
While the Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut accused the estranged ally BJP of horse trading, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis said, “We don’t want to indulge in horse-trading. All our three candidates will win. They (the ruling alliance partners) have to decide. If our three candidates and their three candidates will be in the fray, the question of horse-trading will not arise. But, even if they contest (on four seats), we will not indulge in any horse-trading and all our three candidates will win,” he noted.
Another top BJP leader said, “For BJP, there is no need for poaching as the disgruntled legislators, especially independents and smaller party members, will vote for the party nominee. The BJP is confident but it is time for the MVA to worry about as it may face a major embarrassment. Shiv Sena’s second nominee is in big trouble.”
Raut, meanwhile, downplayed the BJP’s argument, saying that the Sena in particular, and allies NCP and Congress, have done the necessary home work. “If they think they (BJP) have the numbers, they are right. We think we will win. We have all the votes needed for the victory of four seats of MVA,” he said, adding, “In this election, if anyone assumes that the ED, CBI and Income Tax can also vote, I don’t know.”
State Congress chief Nana Patole claimed that the BJP will be exposed after the victory of MVA’s four nominees. Patole accused it of giving up a tradition of unopposed Rajya Sabha election in Maharashtra. “The MVA has a majority and all the four candidates will be elected,” he noted.