With 7 candidates in the fray for 6 seats, the stage is set for elections to the Rajya Sabha from the state amid apprehensions of ‘horse-trading’ being voiced in different quarters, here on Friday.
The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to agree on withdrawing the so-called ‘extra’ candidate for the 6th seat, paving the way for the polls, scheduled on June 10.
A delegation of MVA comprising Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Kedar and Anil Desai met Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis to explore and ensure unopposed election for the 6 candidates as has been the tradition for over two decades.
However, after the deadline for withdrawal of nominations ended this afternoon, 7 candidates are left in the race who will compete for the 6 seats in the polls.
The main contest will be between Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Pawar and BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik — both from Kolhapur — and would be a test of credibility and strength for both sides to get their respective nominee elected.
Given the current arithmetic of the state legislative assembly, the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress can easily get one elected and the BJP — which had three earlier, can get 2 elected.
With the help of Independents, smaller parties and the excess votes of their allies, both Sena and BJP are hoping to get their candidate elected for the 6th seat which is now being contested.
Sena’s Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut expressed regrets that the BJP did not honour the proposal to drop its nominee Mahadik to ensure unopposed elections, declared that the MVA will ensure all its four nominees are elected without any hassles.
BJP state president Chandrakant Patil also was confident of getting their third nominee (Mahadik) contending that the seat ‘belongs to the BJP’ and asked the Sena should withdraw its candidate.
NCP’s Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Sena and Congress leaders slammed the BJP for ‘forcing’ an election for the 6 Rajya Sabha seats rather than honouring the old norms of unopposed elections to the Upper House of Parliament.
“We are hearing that the BJP is preparing to throw money and threaten legislators with Central agencies to ensure their supporta That’s their style of politics, but we are fully confident of getting all our 4 candidates elected,” Raut said.
Patil denied the charges and said that they are not contacting any legislators from the ruling side, and claimed the BJP would overcome the requirements of around 10 votes needed to ensure Mahadik’s victory.
At one point, Patil urged the Sena to give up the RS seat since BJP is a national party and needed it more than a state party (Sena) which should focus on the upcoming Maharashtra Legislative Council elections where the BJP could give one seat in return.
It may be recalled that a royal scion from the Kolhapur throne, Yuvraj Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje had announced plans to contest the 6th Rajya Sabha seat as an independent, but after failing to get any commitments from either side, withdrew from the race last week.