Maharashtra’s political scene for the last few days can beat the script of any blockbuster Bollywood movie. Just ten days ago, the State witnessed a high voltage drama being played out in the corridors of the Vidhan Bhawan where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snatched the third seat for the Rajya Sabha from the mouth of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
In the Rajya Sabha polls, the MVA had put up four candidates, (NCP and Congress had put one each whereas the Sena had put up two candidates) and managed to get 161 first preference votes, whereas the BJP, which had put up three candidates, got 123 first preference votes. But the new age Chanakya of Maharashtra—BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis played the cards so well that he was able to convert the defeat into victory for his third candidate. The target was 41 and Shiv Sena’s second candidate Sanjay Pawar couldn’t reach that mark, but BJP’s third candidate Dhananjay Mahadik could, thus registering a victory.
In the words of former BJP leader and now NCP candidate for the MLC elections Eknath Khadse, the BJP had a strategy which helped them win the third Rajya Sabha seat. The MLC elections are scheduled to be held on June 20.
The Rajya Sabha elections are history for now, but the results have managed to give many sleepless nights to the ruling alliance, as the elections for ten MLC seats are to be held on June 20. Over here too, the BJP has put five candidates, whereas the MVA has put six, two each from the three ruling parties.
The Shiv Sena is confident that with 55 MLAs it will easily have its two candidates elected to the upper house, while the NCP, with 53 MLAs of which two are in jail, is sure that it will also manage to get its two candidates elected. However, for the Congress, which has 44 MLAs, it will require nine to ten more votes to win the second seat as the target here will be either 26 or 27.
The BJP has put up five candidates and has 113 MLAs, this includes eight Independents who have supported them. With this number, the BJP can easily get four elected and will be left with nine votes. One has to note that in the Rajya Sabha polls, the BJP got 123 votes, and the party is confident that these 10 additional votes will remain with them even during the MLC polls.
The Rajya Sabha elections are history for now, but the results have managed to give many sleepless nights to the ruling alliance, as the elections for ten MLC seats are to be held on June 20
“Nothing has happened in the last few days to change anything, we got 123 votes in the Rajya Sabha polls. These votes will remain with us in the MLC also. We are expecting more and our fifth candidate will surely win,” said Maharashtra BJP’s chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhyay.
Going by the current figure, the BJP then will reach 19 votes and will require more seven to eight votes, for its fifth candidate to win. And what makes the BJP sure of its victory is that the voting for the MLCs is a secret ballot.
The BJP is expecting that many MLAs of the ruling alliance will vote for them. This sentiment of the BJP is seconded by analysts too. Former Editor and media professional, Smita Deshmukh said, “During Rajya Sabha polls, Independents and smaller parties close to NCP chose to vote for BJP. This time it is a secret ballot and all those unhappy MLAs will vote for the BJP.”
According to Smita, the unhappy MLAs are not Independents or smaller party MLAs but are also from the ruling alliance. “Most of them are unhappy because they do not get an audience with the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,” she said.
“The Rajya Sabha results are a mandate between Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis and Fadnavis won this mandate convincingly,” she says.
The major issue in the State of Maharashtra, according to Smita, is that of leadership and Fadnavis is seen as an alternative. “The problem is that CM is inaccessible and many Shiv Sena MLAs also tell me that he’s inaccessible to them too. Both Congress and Sena MLAs are unhappy,” she said.
So far, the strategy deployed by Fadnavis has made the ruling alliance work hard. Even his strongest critics are acknowledging him.
Giving his analysis on the electoral battle between BJP and the ruling alliance, Eknath Khadse said, “The BJP had a strategy in place. The loss during the Rajya Sabha polls was that of MVA not of a single party. I am sure that we will win six seats that we are fighting for. The BJP needs more votes to win the fifth seat than it managed to get during the Rajya Sabha polls.”
According to Khadse, the fight for the 10th seat will be between the Congress and the BJP as he claims that Shiv Sena and NCP have enough seats to get their two candidates elected. He says the counting will go into the third and fourth round of preference votes to declare a winner for the 10th seat.
Meanwhile, the MVA recently held a meeting of all its MLAs at the Sahyadri guest house in South Mumbai. In the meeting, revealed a senior Shiv Sena leader associated with the MLC elections, it was decided that all the three parties and Independents and the smaller parties will vote for the alliance candidates and all will work to get the second candidate of Congress elected in the upcoming poll.
On the other hand, the BJP is sure that it will have its fifth candidate win the elections, especially after it played its card well during the Rajya Sabha polls. The BJP has hands which know the tricks of election pretty well and they maneuver victories. Like the Rajya Sabha, this time too it is a preference voting and BJP knows how to use the numbers.
A BJP leader pointed out that on June 14, Fadnavis was with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from morning in Pune to evening in Mumbai. Next day, he was in Jalna leading a protest. “He’s on the field and knows the pulse of the State. He is connected with leaders across parties and this has given him the confidence to take the risk of putting up the fifth candidate in the MLC elections. He is exuding the same confidence which he had shown when he put up the third candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections and also got him elected.”
The MLC election results will tell us the political mood. A slight shift can cause a major change and the BJP has already with Rajya Sabha polls shown that it is ahead in the race. The MVA has to catch up, while the results may not impact the Government, but it will have an impact for the upcoming polls for sure.