Tug of war likely among Maharashtra coalition partners over Rajya Sabha seat
In the 288 -strong-Maharashtra assembly, a party needs the support of 37 MLAs to elect its candidate to the Rajya Sabha in this phase of biennial polls.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 04:49 IST
With seven Rajya Sabha members from Maharashtra retiring in April, there might be a tug of war between the three allies of the Maharashtra Vikas Agadhi for an additional seat in the Upper House.
In the 288 -strong-Maharashtra assembly, a party needs the support of 37 MLAs to elect its candidate to the Rajya Sabha in this phase of biennial polls. The Bharatiya Janata Party has 105 legislators and enjoys support of nine independent MLAs.
In the ruling coalition, the Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs while the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress have 54 and 44 MLAs respectively. Among the remaining 20 MLAs, at least 15 are expected to support the state’s ruling coalition.
The Rajya Sabha MPs from Maharashtra retiring on April 2 are NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his party colleague Majeed Menon, the Congress’ Hussain Dalwai, the Shiv Sena’s Rajkumar Dhoot, union minister Ramdas Athawale (RPIA), the BJP’s Amar Sable and Independent MP Sanjay Kakde.
The ruling Maharashtra Vikash Aghadi coalition is sure of winning four of these seven seats with the help of 169 legislators while the BJP (with support from allies and independents) can easily win 2 seats. Neither side has the numbers for the seventh seat. A Rajya Sabha candidate is elected by MLAs. MLAs give their order of preference for all candidates. If a seat is not decided through the first preference votes, the second preference votes are counted.
While the ruling coalition is in a position to bag the seventh seat through the second preference votes, there is likely to be a tussle between Congress and NCP over the choice of candidate.
“The NCP has two MPs retiring but the Congress is eyeing the second seat. If the three parties decide to allocate the seats on the basis of their tally in the legislative Assembly then Shiv Sena can ask for the second seat,” said a senior NCP leader.
At least two senior Congress leaders, including a state minister, said they will request for the additional seat as the NCP got the better deal in ministerial portfolios.
According to a Shiv Sena leader if the three parties plan it well and communicate, there should be no problem in fair distribution of the seats in the Rajya Sabha elections or those to the state’s legislative council .
“Of the seven RS seats the MVA can win four and five of the nine council seats (to be elected from MLAs) falling vacant in the next two months. There will be no clashes if we fix the formula as per our strength in the assembly,’’ he said. He added that going by numbers, Sena has the first claim to the additional berth.
Political analyst Hemant Desai pointed out that the track record of the MVA allies on the co-ordination front has been poor. Given Pawar’s role in forming the state’s coalition government, NCP could well keep both seats, he added.
Former Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said,”The seats to be contested by three parties in MVA for the RS will be decided through due deliberation and on the basis of the existing strength of the parties.’”