The Rajya Sabha polls for six seats from Maharashtra, slated on March 30, may throw up some surprises with eight candidates now in the fray.
On Monday, the last date for nominations, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) fielded three candidates, one of whom is an extra candidate to queer the pitch.
Legislators vote in this election and voting is through the system of proportional representation. Voters have to list out a preference of their candidates, from the most preferred to their second option and so forth. Candidates have to bag a certain number of votes to get elected.
On Monday, Rajiv Shukla, Congress leader and minister of state for parliamentary affairs, filed his nomination for another term, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded Nagpur-based industrialist Ajay Kumar Sancheti, a close aide of party president Nitin Gadkari.
The NCP's candidates include former Pune mayor Vandana Chavan, party general secretary DP Tripathi and MLC Prakash Binsale.
The elections became necessary after Pune-based builder Sanjay Kakade, considered to be close to Ajit Pawar, filed his nomination as an Independent last week and became the seventh contestant for the six seats.
Other than Kakade, Union science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had filed his nomination, and the Shiv Sena fielded Anil Desai last week.
Both the Sena and the BJP, with 45 and 47 legislator strength respectively, said they can secure their one seat.
While the Congress, with 82 legislators, can get both their candidates elected easily, Kakade's nomination can be troublesome for the NCP.
The NCP has 62 legislators and needs the support of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Independents to secure the second seat. "We will get our two seats. We have the support of 14 Independents and the MNS. I don't think Kakade stands a chance," said an NCP functionary.
With two additional candidates - Kakade and Binsale -the parties are worried about horse-trading and cross-voting. Binsale said: "I don't see any room for horse-trading. We will bag our two seats."
The Sena and the Congress are vulnerable to cross-voting.
Sources in the MNS said the NCP was in touch with Raj Thackeray, but a decision would be taken after he returned from his vacation abroad.