BJP in Maharashtra did what most political parties cannot even imagine. Last night (June 20) celebrations at the state BJP headquarters in Nariman Point, hardly a distance from the Vidhan Bhawan was more buzzing than any other political offices located within the vicinity.
The reason is, that BJP snatched its fifth victory from the mouth of the ruling MVA government in the state. The three-party-led MVA has many casualties post the MLC elections.
Firstly Chandrakant Handore the Dalit face of Congress who was the first preferred choice of the Congress lost the polls to the second preference candidate Bhai Jagtap. Secondly, the Shiv Sena saw its number dwindling from claiming the support of 64 MLAs, the party managed to get 52 votes.
The only MVA alliance partner that could secure its base and gain was NCP, both of its candidates got more votes than the required quota of 26.
However, the clear winner was BJP, which exhausted all its votes in the first four candidates, and yet managed to win the fifth seat. Devendra Fadnavis thanked the independents and smaller parties for this achievement.
Just 10 days ago, when the polls for the Rajyasabha elections concluded the BJP which originally had 113 MLAs with it (106 of BJP and the rest independents and smaller parties), swelled to 123 votes. But on June 20, when the MLC elections took place the BJP secured 134 votes.
The addition of votes in the BJP kitty was from nowhere but from those MLAs who were either part of the MVA alliance or of parties running the MVA.
The Shiv Sena which is leading the government in Maharashtra received a rude shock by Monday evening with murmurs that some of its MLAs had gone incommunicado. The news was later confirmed by none other than Sanjay Raut of Shiv Sena who even named Eknath Shinde.
For those unaware of the clout that Shinde holds in Maharashtra politics and especially in Shiv Sena only one incident will suffice, it was Shinde who was assigned the task to hold the Shiv Sena, NCP and even Congress MLAs together during the 2019 MVA government formation.
Shinde is a big name in the Shiv Sena and has a very strong hold in Thane, Konkan, western Maharashtra and even in Northern Maharashtra, he is a big leader in the tribal belt of Maharashtra too.
“It is believed that Shinde along with him has taken a good number of MLAs to a hotel in Gujarat, he left in the afternoon post elections. I am told that there are more top leaders in Shiv Sena who are in touch with Shinde and will side with him when the time comes,” said a senior BJP functionary.
Meanwhile, coming to the MLC polls, the BJP from day one was confident that it will win five seats and hence in spite of not having numbers, the party is known for its strategy of successfully getting its fifth candidate elected.
“BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis who was trolled by the MVA government in the last two and half years, made the MVA face a humiliating defeat twice within just 10 days. The mandate is in favour of Fadnavis and BJP and its proven,” said a BJP leader.
Keshav Upadhyay the BJP spokesperson for the state had told the Organiser that BJP will not just keep the 123 votes it polled in the Rajyasabha polls on June 10, but will have more in MLC elections. The BJP’s planning machinery was working continuously behind the scenes and the party showed it with results.
Meanwhile, in the Congress there’s a lot of turmoil, the third party in the MVA alliance with 44 MLAs, couldn’t reach the quota of 26 in the first round of voting for either of its candidates.
Ironically, the first preference candidate a known Dalit face from the party Chandrakant Handore lost the elections to second preference candidate Bhai Jagtap. In the night between Monday and Tuesday, Handore’s supporters even held a protest.
BL Santosh, National General Secretary (Org) of the BJP accused Congress’ Bhai Jagtap of poaching its own MLAs against Handore for defeating Dalit leader Handore.
Most leaders of the MVA especially from the Congress and Shiv Sena would complain in secret that they would hardly get an audience with the Chief Minister and also sufficient funds would not be allocated to them.
Many Congress MLAs who felt sidelined in the ruling MVA government have also started speaking openly now.
Shiv Sena ministers already are disgruntled, and now it’s in open that stalwarts like Shinde, and many others have rebelled, the future of MVA appears unpredictable.
Many smaller parties and independent MLAs have also started contacting BJP, these includes mostly those who had sided with the Shiv Sena in the last two and half years.
The political drama while is being played in Mumbai, with most of the actors now stationed outside the state, holding meetings in Delhi and Gujarat, the future of Maharashtra politics has changed dramatically overnight.