The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have decided to contest the biennial legislative council elections together.
Members of the assembly will elect 10 legislators to the upper house. The Congress decided on Saturday to contest only one seat, fielding senior leader and former chief minister Narayan Rane.
The NCP’s nominees are chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar and opposition leader Dhananjay Munde but as the tenures of both had ended and the party had the strength to secure only one candidate’s election, it sought Congress’ help. The Congress decided to support the NCP to get both nominees elected. In exchange, the NCP has agreed to do the same for Congress in next election to the upper house in 2018, said party sources.
The Congress’ decision is significant as the two parties bitterly parted ways ahead of the 2014 assembly elections.
Eleven members of the legislative council are due to retire on July 7 this year. Of them, 10 are going to be elected by 288 members of the Assembly, with the requisite number of 27 votes for each seat.
Of these, 3 each are from the Congress and NCP, while two each are from the BJP and Shiv Sena.
However, after a reduction in their tally in the State Assembly after the 2014 elections, the Congress and NCP can win only one seat each on their own strength and need support for the third.
The Congress’ strength has been reduced to 42 from 82 in 2009 and NCP’s to 41 from 63.
Sources said the decision to support the NCP was taken after Pawar approached Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
“The state Congress leaders were unwilling to accept the demands of the NCP which was desperate to win both seats,” added sources.