Mumbai: The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi on Wednesday heaved a sigh of relief. Samajwadi Party legislators Abu Azmi and Rais Shaikh, who had sought clarification from the ruling partners on its secular credentials, after a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and a phone call from party chief Akhilesh Yadav, declared that they will vote for the MVA in the Rajya Sabha election slated for June 10.
For the MVA and the Shiv Sena, in particular, every vote is crucial for ensuring a win for its second nominee Sanjay Pawar.
There are seven candidates in the fray -- BJP 3, Shiv Sena 2 and NCP and Congress one each -- for the Rajya Sabha election slated for June 10.
Both Azmi and Shaikh did not attend the meeting of MVA legislators, independents and smaller parties on Tuesday, which was intended to be a show of strength. They had openly expressed serious displeasure over the MVA government’s inability to provide substantial funds to the minority community, especially to the Minority Finance Commission.
Azmi and Shaikh were also livid over repeated Hindutva claims by Thackeray and the Shiv Sena in a game of one-upmanship the BJP.
However, Azmi, after his meeting with Thackeray and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, categorically declared that ‘‘Samajwadi Party will vote for the MVA. Both CM and DCM have promised to look into various issues raised by us.’’
It was a call from Akhilesh Yadav which finally helped Azmi and Shaikh make up their minds. Akhilesh and Thackeray have a good rapport and are likely partners in the much debated alliance of non-BJP parties ahead of the next general election.
The Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress, too, have been in constant touch with their legislators who are camping in Trident and West In hotels.
Senior leaders from the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena on late Wednesday evening met at Trident to review the situation. The Congress legislators will have a meeting on Thursday at West In where they will be briefed on how to cast their votes.
The BJP, which keeps asserting that it is sure of the victory of its third nominee, organised meetings of the legislators who are housed in the Taj President hotel. On Thursday, the Union railway minister Ashwin Vaishnav, who is the RS poll observer, will meet BJP legislators and independents and the smaller parties.