Voting Underway for 10 Seats; Jailed NCP MLAs Seek SC’s Permission to Cast Vote

Voting for elections to 10 seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) began in the state legislature complex here on Monday morning. The polling process, which commenced at 9 am, will end at 4 pm and the results will be declared in the evening.

A total of 11 candidates are in the fray for the 10 seats, with the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – fielding two candidates each. The BJP has nominated five candidates.

The NCP has fielded Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and former minister Eknath Khadse, who had quit the BJP to join the Sharad Pawar-led party.

Khadse on Sunday met BVA leader and Vasai MLA Hitendra Thakur and sought the support of his party in the tight contest between opposition BJP and Shiv Sena-led tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

Recently, nominees of NCP, Congress, and BJP had called on Thakur separately apparently to seek the support of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), which has three MLAs in the Legislative Assembly.

Later talking to reporters on the premises of Thakur’s office, Khadse admitted that he had asked for the BVA’s votes in the polls. “I know Hitendra Thakur for more than 32 years. We share good relations. We know each other beyond politics. Today, we discussed family matters and didn’t talk much about politics,” he said. Khadse said it is Thakur’s prerogative whom to vote.

“I hope he will take the right decision,” Khadse said, adding that Thakur cited different issues in his constituency during their discussion. Khadse also claimed that many MLAs in his parent party BJP, which he had quit last year, are his supporters.

The Shiv Sena has nominated Sachin Ahir and Amshya Padvi, a party functionary from the tribal-dominated Nandurbar district while the Congress has nominated Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap and former minister Chandrakant Handore.

The BJP has renominated outgoing MLCs Darekar and Lad, and given tickets to Ram Shinde, Uma Khapre and Shrikant Bharatiya.

The effective strength of the 288-member Maharashtra House is reduced to 285 following the death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, while two NCP MLAs -Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh – are currently in jail and are not allowed to vote by the high court. Smaller parties and Independents account for 25 MLAs.

The BJP has 106 MLAs, Shiv Sena 55, Congress 44 and NCP 52. Given its strength in the Assembly, the BJP can get four of the five candidates elected, the Sena and the NCP two each, and the Congress one.

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