Elections to six seats of the legislative council were held on Saturday, with old allies — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — facing off against each other on four seats. The results of the polls will be declared on November 22. The opposition has a majority in the upper house of the state legislature, with the NCP being the largest party there.
The six seats — Sangli-Satara, Yavatmal, Bhandara-Gondia, Pune, Nanded and Jalgaon — are to be elected from local bodies. The six members of the upper house will retire on December 5. Of them, four are from the NCP and one from the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) each.
The Congress and NCP had pitted candidates against each other for the Sangli-Satara, Yavatmal, Bhandara-Gondia and Pune seats. Talks between the allies fell through after the Congress announced candidates for all six seats. The NCP pitted five candidates. To ensure Congress candidate Amar Rajurkar was defeated in Nanded —hometown of state Congress president and former chief minister Ashok Chavan — the NCP had supported independent candidate Shyamsundar Shinde, a retired IAS officer. The BJP and Shiv Sena, however, did not pit candidates against each other. The BJP contested three seats, while the Shiv Sena is contesting one. In Nanded, the parties have declared their support for Shinde.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) remained neutral on poll day in Pune. The party refrained from voting as mark of protest, after its candidate was disqualified, making the fight between the Congress and NCP tougher. The MNS has 28 seats in the Pune Municipal Corporation.
Sources said the parties failed to arrive at a seat-sharing arrangement as the Congress was firm on its demand for three seats, while the NCP offered only two.
The parties will also contest against each other in the municipal council polls starting from November 28 in four phases. Both parties have asked their local units decide on potential alliances. They have stuck to their decision, despite the BJP and Shiv Sena announcing a statewide alliance for the polls.
Polls will be held for around 212 municipal councils. They will be followed by elections for 10 major municipal corporations including Mumbai, Pune and Thane.