Polls on July 16: BJP looks to control the upper house of Maharashtra legislature
Nationalist Congress Party still controls the legislative council with the Congress, but this scenario is likely to changeUpdated: Jun 30, 2018 01:03 IST
After winning four seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections, Bharatiya Janata Party is now eyeing a majority in the upper house. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) still controls the legislative council with the Congress, but this scenario is likely to change. After its recent wins, BJP has as many seats as NCP in the upper house and is looking to raise its tally.
Eleven legislative council seats will be up for re-election on July 16 and BJP, Shiv Sena is strategising to win approximately seven. If BJP can gain control of the upper house, it would mean no opposition in the legislature for the state government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “The Opposition has been trying to corner the government using its majority in the upper house, be it passage of bills or the debate on important issues,” said a BJP minister. “Our leaders had openly expressed their dismay over the biased attitude of the presiding officers on many occasions in the upper house. This would be a golden opportunity for us to turn the tables on them.”
On the basis of its majority in the lower house, the BJP is in a good position to win seats in the upcoming legislative council elections.
The legislative council, or the upper house of the state legislature, has 78 seats of which 11 will be up for election in July.
At present, Congress and NCP enjoy a majority in the legislative council with 18 and 19 seats respectively. The NCP holds the posts of chairman and leader of opposition while the deputy chairman is from Congress. The tenure of the current chairman, NCP’s Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar, ends in July 2022, but deputy chairman Manikrao Thakre’s term ends this year, on July 27.
“We would claim the posts [of chairman and deputy chairman] if the numbers allowed us to. There is no need to hesitate,” said BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari.
On the issue of BJP staking claim on these two posts in the legislative council, Thakre, who is from the Congress, pointed out that the Congress had not dislodged BJP’s NS Farande after gaining power in the 1999 assembly elections. When asked about Farande’s case, Bhandari said, “The relationship between ruling party and Opposition has changed.”
Over the last four years, BJP has inched closer to NCP’s numbers and after winning four seats recently, BJP has 19 members in the legislative council. A majority would give the BJP-Shiv Sena partnership a claim on the posts of chairman and deputy chairman of the legislative council.
Elections for 11 seats will be held on July 16. These members will be elected by members of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the lower house. To get elected, each candidate in the legislative council election will need votes from at least 25 sitting members of the assembly.
The BJP’s strategy to get control of the upper house includes getting independent and legislators from smaller parties on its side.
“We are in talks with independents and smaller parties. We will surely win seven to eight seats and establish our majority in the council. Though there is bickering between us, the Shiv Sena too will be with us on this issue,” said a BJP minister.
Congress and NCP, who have 42 and 41 members in the lower house respectively, should be able to win three or four of the 11 legislative council seats on the basis of their strength in the assembly.
If the Congress wins one seat, it will go past NCP and could claim the post of leader of Opposition, which is currently held by NCP’s Dhananjay Munde. This could be a source of friction between the two parties.
The ruling BJP and Shiv Sena should be able to win at least seven out of the 11 seats since together, they have 186 legislators in the 288-member lower house.
First Published: Jun 30, 2018 01:01 IST