Ahead of Rajya Sabha Polls, Shiv Sena Corrals MLAs in Mumbai Hotel to Avoid Poaching

Ahead of the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls, the ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has decided to shift its MLAs from a resort in suburban Malad to a five-star hotel in south Mumbai as part of a strategy to ward off poaching, a senior party leader said on Tuesday. All legislators of the Sena have been summoned to Mumbai and they will stay together till the polls on June 10, he said.

”We were in ’The Retreat’ (at Madh island in northwest Mumbai) and all our ministers too were present there. That was part of our strategy. We will be moving to hotel ’The Trident’ (in south Mumbai) today,” Sena MLA and party spokesperson Sunil Prabhu said.

The Trident is at a stone’s throw from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly where voting will take place for the six Rajya Sabha seats. The Sena has 55 MLAs (one MLA had died due to a heart attack last month) in the 288-member House. Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Monday met the MLAs of his party as well as others supporting it.

After more than two decades, the state will witness a contest in the Rajya Sabha polls as there are seven candidates in the fray for six seats. The Sena has fielded two candidates — Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar — while the BJP has nominated Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik. The NCP (Praful Patel) and Congress (Imran Pratapgarhi) have fielded one candidate each.

The contest lies for the sixth seat between Pawar and Mahadik. Given its strength in the Assembly, the BJP has enough votes to win two seats, while the Sena, NCP and Congress can win one seat each. The Sena (55), NCP (52) and Congress (44) — all constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi– have enough votes together to ensure the victory for the second candidate of the Sena. While two NCP MLAs- Anil Deshmukh and minister Nawab Malik- are currently in jail, one seat is lying vacant in the 288-member House. Apart from the four main parties, the Assembly has 25 MLAs from smaller parties and Independents.

The Sena decided to corral its MLAs after accusing the opposition BJP of ”horse-trading” and using Central agencies to pressure independent MLAs.

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