Tussle among MVA allies likely over RS slotUpdated: Feb 13, 2020 00:42 IST
With seven Rajya Sabha (RS) MPs elected from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly retiring in April, there is likely to be a tug of war between the three allies of the Maharashtra Vikas Agadhi (MVA) to win an additional seat in the Upper House. The MVA allies — the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — plan to nominate RS members on the basis of their total strength in the Assembly.
The MVA can win four of these seven seats with the combined tally of their legislators reaching 169 as each winning candidate needs the support of 37 MPs. There is likely to be a tussle between the Congress, the Sena and the NCP over the fourth seat.
Meanwhile, despite added strength of its opponents, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be able to yet again send three of the seven MPs to the Upper House.
The BJP has 105 legislators and the support of nine Independents and allies; the Sena has 56 MLAs; NCP has 54; and Congress has 44 in the Maharashtra Assembly. Although the MVA has 20 seats over the quota required to win four seats, it cannot win the fifth seat. The BJP, whose tally is 114, has sufficient number of MLAs to win 3 seats.
The Rajya Sabha MPs who were elected from the state legislative Assembly and are retiring on April 2 include NCP chief Sharad Pawar; his party colleague Majeed Memon; Congress’ Hussain Dalwai; Sena’s Rajkumar Dhoot; Republican Party of India’s (A) Ramdas Athawale; BJP’s Amar Sable; and Independent MP Sanjay Kakde.
“Although NCP has two MPs retiring this time, 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 the Congress does not stand a chance. On the basis of the numbers, even the Sena can bat for the second seat,” said a senior NCP leader.
At least two senior Congress leaders, including a state minister, also said that a request will be made to the MVA for the fourth RS berth as the NCP had got an upper hand in the state government vis-à-vis the allotment of ministerial portfolios.
According to a Sena leader, if the three parties maintain adequate coordination, there would be no problem in fair distribution of the seats in RS and Legislative Councils.
“Of the seven RS seats the MVA can win, four and five of the nine Council seats [to be elected from among MLAs] will be 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 the numbers, Sena had claim over the additional berth.
Political analyst Hemant Desai pointed out that the track record of the MVA allies on co-ordination front was poor and despite a tussle, chances were that NCP would get to keep its two RS seats going by the party’s strength in the Assembly and the role played by Pawar in forming the government.
Former Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said, “The seats to be contested by the three MVA parties for RS will be decided through due deliberation and on basis of the existing strength of the parties.”
Besides a tussle among the parties, there is also likely to be an internal wrangle among RS aspirants. Several of the sitting MPs may not get a second tenure from their respective parties. The NCP is unlikely to re-nominate its outgoing MP Memon, but there is no clarity on his replacement. The Congress is unlikely to repeat Dalwai as it is considering former MPs Rajiv Satav and Sushilkumar Shinde for the Upper House.
The Sena is also unlikely to repeat its incumbent MP and may consider one of its senior leaders, who lost the Lok Sabha (LS) elections last year, for instance, Aurangabad’s former MP Chandrakant Khaire, said a senior party functionary.
The BJP is expected to continue its support to Union minister Athawale, who is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and founder of the Dalit faction RPI (A).
Other names that are likely to be considered by the party include former MP Udayanraje Bhosale, who lost the Satara LS seat as a BJP candidate last year. Kakde, who won the RS polls in 2014 as a consensus candidate of all the political parties, is now with the BJP. He however, may not be considered by the BJP for a fresh tenure.