As MVA, BJP pray for ‘political miracle’, MLC polling begins

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Polling for the biennial elections to 10 seats of Maharashtra Legislative Council started with both the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party praying for a ‘political miracle’ for the one crucial seat on which there’s a main contest among 11 candidates, here on Monday.

Ending their five-star weekend retreats, the legislators of MVA allies Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress and BJP were driven in buses to the Maharashtra Legislature at Nariman Point with senior leaders keeping a close watch on their respective flocks.

A total of 11 candidates are vying for the 10 MLC seats via the electoral college comprising 288 MLAs, though effectively 285 shall vote in the elections on Monday (June 20).

Polling started on a brisk note with over three dozen MLAs across party lines casting their votes under the eagle eyes of their respective polling agents.

The MLC elections are slated for a thriller contest with the main prime contest between Congress’ Bhai Jagtap and BJP’s Prasad Lad, both vying for the crucial 10th seat.

Jagtap, 66, is a trade unionist heading the Bharatiya Kamgar Karmachari Mahasangh (BKKM) and President of Mumbai Congress, while Lad, 51, is a former MLC and former chairman of Mumbai Buildings Repair and Reconstruction Board.

Both are considered as good pals on a personal level, Lad is considered a confidante of Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and has been a trouble-shooter for the BJP on various occasions.

Of the 288-member strong lower house, one Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke died recently, while two NCP MLAs Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik — currently in jail — were denied permission by the Bombay High Court to vote for the MLC polls.

The quota for winning — depending on the actual votes cast — would be 26 or 27 per candidate, and the 29 MLAs of smaller parties or independents will play a crucial role in the elections.

The MVA has fielded Sachin Ahir and Amasha Padvi (Shiv Sena), Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar and Eknath Khadse (Nationalist Congress Party), Chandrakant Handore and Bhai Jagtap (Congress).

The BJP has nominated Pravin Darekar, Prof. Ram Shinde, Shrikant Bhartiya, Uma Khapre and Prasad Lad.

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