Describing BJP's victory on three Rajya Sabha seats in Maharashtra as the "mandate of horsetrading", Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday accused the Election Commission (EC) of siding with the opposition party, which he claimed "put pressure" on the poll panel.
Talking to reporters here in the afternoon, Raut who retained his seat, said ,"Some horses were up for sale at a higher price and shifted sides despite assurance of their votes to our candidate." Raut said the defeat of Shiv Sena's second candidate Sanjay Pawar was not a setback.
"In fact, Pawar got 33 first preference votes, while BJP's Dhananjay Mahadik got 27. But Mahadik scraped through on the basis of the second and third preference vote," he said.
Raut said the vote of Shiv Sena MLA Suhas Kande was disqualified, whereas BJP's two votes were retained even as the same mistake was committed citing which the Sena's vote was invalidated.
He said three MLAs of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), an independent MLA from Karmala Sanjaymama Shinde, Swabhimani Party MLA Devendra Bhuyar, PWP MLA Shyamsunder Shinde did not votfor the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) despite assuring to do so.
"We have taken note of this development," he said adding that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was distressed over the defeat of Sanjay Pawar.
Earlier in the day, while talking to reporters soon after the results were declared, Raut had said that the BJP's victory was not as huge as it was being made out to be.
The top leaders of his party had made a detailed plan for the Rajya Sabha polls to ensure a victory for Pawar, but some MLAs did not vote for them, he said.
"The top leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) had also worked hard to ensure victory for Sanjay Pawar," he added.
The bitter contest that went to the wire saw three candidates of the BJP - Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Mahadik - winning the polls. The Sena (Raut), NCP (Praful Patel) and Congress (Imran Pratapgarhi) won one seat each.
Of the 284 valid votes, Goyal polled 48, Bonde 48, Mahadik 41.56, Raut 41, Pratapgarhi 44 and Patel 43.
Both BJP and the Shiv Sena approached the Election Commission, alleging breach of election rules and seeking disqualification of votes.
The poll panel directed the Rajya Sabha election returning officer of Maharashtra to reject the vote cast by Shiv Sena legislator Suhas Kande, after which the counting of votes got underway after 1 am.
"By putting pressure on the Election Commission in Delhi, our one vote (of MLA Kande) was disqualified. We had petitioned to make their votes invalid, but the Election Commission sided with them. What has happened in Maharashtra, Haryana and Rajasthan raises question marks on the (functioning of) Election Commission," he said.
"Rajya Sabha polls are a complex and rigid process and they take first preference and second preference votes. They won on the basis of the second preference vote, so best wishes to them," he said.
Raut expressed confidence that all the candidates fielded by the Sena would win the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls for 10 seats scheduled on June 20.