Maharashtra suspense on Rajya Sabha seats continues; counting yet to begin

Updated on Jun 10, 2022 07:08 PM IST

Rajya Sabha elections: BJP legislators Parag Alavani and Atul Save demanded that three votes of MVA legislators be declared invalid as they allegedly did not follow voting rules

Rajya Sabha elections: Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray during Rajya Sabha elections outside Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Friday. (PTI)
Rajya Sabha elections: Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray during Rajya Sabha elections outside Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Friday. (PTI)
ByFaisal Malik and Swapnil Rawal

Election officials are yet to begin counting the 285 votes for the six Rajya Sabha seats in Maharashtra after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) complained that three lawmakers of the state’s ruling coalition MVA did not follow the rules for voting and demanded that their votes should be cancelled.

The voting, which started at 9am, was wrapped up by 4pm, and counting was scheduled to start at 5pm.

Officials said once a decision on the complaint is taken, the counting of votes was expected to take another two hours. In all, there are seven candidates in the fray for the six Rajya Sabha seats in what has turned into a close contest between the ruling coalition Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the opposition BJP.

The BJP has fielded Union minister Piyush Goyal, former state minister Anil Bonde and former MP Dhananjay Mahadik while the ruling coalition has fielded MP Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar (Shiv Sena), former union minister Praful Patel (NCP) and Imran Pratapgarhi (Congress).

The winning candidates need 41 votes.

Also Read | 2 Janata Dal Secular lawmakers cross vote in Karnataka

BJP legislators Parag Alavani and Atul Save demanded that three votes of MVA legislators be declared invalid as they allegedly did not follow voting rules.

Alavani said that he objected to the voting of Suhas Kande (Shiv Sena) and Yashomati Thakur (Congress) while Atul Save objected to the voting of Jitendra Awhad (NCP).

“As per the rules, a legislator has to show the ballot paper to their polling agent, but Awhad and Thakur gave the ballot paper in the hands of their respective polling agents,” he said.

He added, “Suhas Kande showed his ballot paper to the polling agents of two other parties, which is also against the rules. Therefore, we have written to the returning officer against Awhad, Kande and Yashomati Thakur demanding votes be made invalid. The entire process is shot on video, it should be looked into which will show the lapse in procedure and a hearing should be taken.”

Congress and NCP MLAs rejected the allegations.

NCP legislator and state housing minister Jitendra Awhad said: “I was standing behind while Jayant Patil was sitting ahead. Does he (Parag Alavani) have eyes at the back of his head to see? Their objection does not matter... It only shows how scared they are [of losing].” He declined to comment if he handed over the paper in the hand of the party’s polling agent.

Congress MLA and minister Yashomati Thakur said, “As soon as they (BJP) came to know that their candidates are going to lose the election battle, they have adopted a strategy of creating confusion. I can say with full confidence that all our four candidates are winning the poll.”

Congress MLA Amarnath Rajurkar, on the other hand, said the election watchdog should declare the vote of BJP’s Sudhir Mungantiwar’s vote as he handed over his ballot paper to the party’s polling agent Chandrashekhar Bawankule. The charge was refuted by Bawankule who insisted that it was just an attempt to counter the objections raised by BJP.

The assembly has a strength of 288 but there are 287 members due to the death of a Sena MLA.

The ruling MVA did suffer a setback when the Bombay high court also rejected requests by the NCP’s two MLAs, Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, to vote but their absence was compensated by the last-minute decision by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) which has two legislators.

“AIMIM has decided to vote for the MVA to defeat the BJP. However, our ideological differences with Shiv Sena, which is in power with Congress and NCP, will continue,” said Imtiaz Jaleel, AIMIM MP, in a tweet.

Based on the strength of 285 the MVA requires 164 votes to win four seats while BJP needs 123 votes. Each candidate needs 41 first preference votes to get elected in the first round of preferential voting.

The combined strength of the three MVA parties is 150 votes minus Deshmukh and Malik. This means the MVA candidates will require 14 votes from smaller parties and Independent MLAs. On the other hand, BJP has 106 MLAs and needs 17 more votes. Both the sides are claiming that most of the 29 MLAs from small parties and Independents are with the

The Prahar Janshakti Paksha (PJP), which has two legislators, indicated that it was backing the MVA.

“Most of the demands are met. The discontent (against MVA) was not for us but for farmers and they have now got the relief. The state government has agreed to procure Chana produce. A proposal has also been sent to the Centre for online procurement of Chana,” said Bachu Kadu, PJP MLA and president after casting his vote outside Vidhan Bhavan.

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