Maharashtra legislative assembly.
Maharashtra legislative assembly.

BJP, Shiv Sena get majority in Maharashtra legislative council

This has ended the long-running dominance of the opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which will slip to 17 seats

Nagpur: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to become the largest party in the Maharashtra legislative council for the first time, with the latest round of elections to 11 seats taking its tally in the 78-member Upper House to 21.

This has ended the long-running dominance of the opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which will slip to 17 seats. The Congress also has 17 seats followed by the Shiv Sena, which is a partner in the BJP-led ruling alliance, with 12 seats. The Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), the People’s Republican Party (PRP), the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP), and Lok Bharti have one each. There are six independents. One seat is vacant following the death of BJP member Pandurang Phundkar last month.

Elections to the 11 council seats were scheduled on 16 July during the current monsoon session of the state legislature here but all 11 nominees—four from BJP, two each from Shiv Sena and Congress, and one each from BJP ally RSP, the NCP and PWP—would now be declared elected unopposed.

On Monday, the BJP withdrew the candidature of Prithviraj Deshmukh, who last week had filed nomination as the 12th candidate. As only 11 seats of the council are falling vacant in July (the council membership is for six years like the Rajya Sabha), Deshmukh’s nomination added a competitive element to the otherwise predictable elections with voting going according to the strength of various parties in the assembly as the candidates are to be elected by members of the Lower House.

The BJP, with 122 members of its own in the 288-member assembly, one from ally RSP, and a few independents, would be able to ensure the election of five candidates to the council with each seat requiring the requisite quota of 25 votes.

The Shiv Sena has 63 MLAs, which means the party has more than enough numbers to elect two of its nominees to the council. The Congress has 42 seats in the assembly and the NCP 41. Deshmukh’s nomination as the sixth BJP nominee would spoil the chances of senior PWP legislator Jayant Patil as it has only three members in the assembly and would have been forced to depend on the extra 13 votes the Shiv Sena has in the eventuality of elections.

The new BJP members of the legislative council are Bhai Girkar, Ramesh Patil, Nilay Naik, Ram Patil Ratolikar. Mahadev Jankar from the RSP was elected to the council with the support of the BJP. Shiv Sena’s Anil Parab and Manisha Kayande have been elected to the council.

The Congress has re-nominated Sharad Ranpise and elected Wazahat Mirza. NCP’s Babajani Durrani and PWP’s Jayant Patil have also been elected to the legislative council.

With the BJP-Shiv Sena gaining a simple majority in the Upper House of Maharashtra legislature, the saffron combine could look to pass push through some crucial bills in the council during the next 15 months before the Maharashtra assembly elections, a BJP minister told Mint requesting anonymity.

“With their majority, the NCP-Congress were able to hold up several key bills or at least delay their passage. We can now push through these legislation though it remains to be seen if the NCP-Congress works with the smaller opposition parties and independents to stall them even now," said the BJP minister.

The BJP-Shiv Sena may also stake claim for the post of deputy chairman of the council which has fallen vacant and election for which would be held during the winter session of the legislature later this year, the minister said. The post was held by the Congress before.