The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate and former Shiv Sena leader, Kiran Pawaskar won the by-polls to the Maharashtra legislative council held at the Vidhan Sabha on Monday.
Pawaskar’s big margin victory against Sena candidate, Rahul Narwekar, by polling 182 votes against the latter’s 90 votes is being read as a triumph for deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar, who has been handling the party’s political management. Pawar did not let the Sena candidate win even a vote more than the BJP-Sena alliance’s strength in the assembly.
“This is a victory of the Democratic Front government. The big margin shows that majority is still solidly behind us. Rather than talking about how I can impact civic polls in favour of NCP, I would like my work to speak for itself,’’ said Pawaskar. He added that NCP flags will soon be seen in the hospitality and aviation sector instead of saffron flags.
The alliance has 91 members (BJP 46 and Sena 45), and with Shivaji Kardile, a BJP legislator abstaining from voting, Narwekar got 90 votes. The strength of the ruling alliance stands at 144 in the state assembly, with Congress having 82 legislators and NCP 62.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s 13 legislators and a lone Communist Party of India (Marxist) member abstained from voting. The remaining votes went to Pawaskar – which is seen as result of Pawar's maneuvering. A winning candidate needs only 145 votes from the 289 strong state assembly.
The by-polls had to be called as Pawaskar, a trade union leader resigned as Sena legislator last month before he joined NCP. Pawar had got Pawaskar on board and getting him re-elected was a prestige issue for the leader and NCP. Though the Congress-NCP are significantly ahead of the Opposition in terms of actual strength in the state assembly, Pawaskar polled nearly 38 votes more, getting support from a majority of independents and all small opposition parties.
“Pawar had strategised this win and we had ensured that the margin would be big,’’ said a senior NCP party worker.