The elections to eight seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council from the local bodies constituency saw partners in both alliances voting against each other’s candidates as the results declared on Wednesday show. The BJP gained two seats at the expense of the Congress (from Nagpur) and the Nationalist Congress Party (from Solapur).
The Shiv Sena retained its two seats -- from the BMC and from Akola-Buldana -- but its candidate in Mumbai, the environment minister Ramdas Kadam, did not get votes from its ally the BJP. Kadam’s tally of 86 votes is the Sena’s strength in the BMC; the NCP rebel Prasad Lad got 55 votes – including 31 from BJP corporators and all 14 NCP votes.
The Congress’ Bhai Jagtap retained his seat from the BMC but got just nine votes more than Lad. Soon after the results were announced, Lad said it was a victory for him, as he was just nine votes behind Jagtap and also thanked chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for support.
The infighting persisted even after a meeting between the Sena and the BJP around a week ago, where Ashish Shelar, city unit chief of the BJP, had said his party would ensure a resounding victory for Kadam in the election held on Sunday.
The NCP, however, had to pay the price for joining hands with the BJP elsewhere in the state. In Solapur, the Congress did not back its ally’s candidate and the NCP lost the seat to an independent supported by the BJP.
The BJP candidate was also elected unopposed in Nagpur as the Congress withdrew before the contest as it did not have the numbers.
“Had the Congress supported Deepak Salunke, our candidate in the Solapur civic body, he would not have lost to an independent, Prashant Paricharak, supported by the BJP,” said an NCP leader.
The leader admitted the NCP looked for short-term gains.
“More than 20 seats of the legislative council will become vacant over the next one year. Without support from each other, it will be difficult for either the Congress or the NCP to retain their current strength in the council,” he said.
Congress leader and former chief minister Narayan Rane expressed his discontent over the “backstabbing” by the NCP.
He said his party would now think twice before dealing with the ally. He also took a dig at Fadnavis and said
the latter had ditched the Sena.
NCP state unit chief Sunil Tatkare said it would not have been possible for Congress’ Jagtap to win without their support.
Wednesday’s results brought the BJP’s tally to 13. Though the NCP lost its Solapur seat, its candidate Arunkaka Jagtap from Ahmednagar won over its nearest rival Shashikant Gade of the Shiv Sena. The Congress retained Nandurbar and Kolhapur.
(With inputs from Faisal Malik)