MVA parleys to avoid a split in Congress votes in Rajya Sabha election | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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MVA parleys to avoid a split in Congress votes in Rajya Sabha election

Feb 14, 2024 11:15 AM IST

The equations in the Rajya Sabha (RS) are expected to change for the Congress as more than a dozen of its MLAs are in touch with Ashok Chavan. The ruling camp aims to win all six seats with Chavan's supporters, while the opposition coalition is looking to secure at least one seat. The election for the RS seats is scheduled for February 27. The BJP and its supporting independents can win three seats, while the Shiv Sena and NCP can win one seat each. The Congress is the only opposition party with sizable strength to win a seat.

MUMBAI: With more than a dozen of its MLAs in touch with Ashok Chavan, the equations in the Rajya Sabha (RS) are expected to change for the Congress. The opposition coalition is now looking at ways to ensure that at least one seat is won even as the ruling camp is aiming to win all six seats with the help of Chavan’s supporters. It is also banking on the possibility of a whip by the ruling Shiv Sena and NCP, which may make it difficult for MLAs from the Thackeray and Sharad Pawar factions to vote for the MVA candidate.

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The election for the six RS seats is slated to be held on February 27. With the existing strength of 284 MLAs, each RS seat needs a quota of 41 votes to win. The BJP and the independents supporting it can win three seats, but the party, betting on the newly evolved political situation, is planning to field a fourth. The ruling Shiv Sena and NCP can win one seat each on the basis of their existing strength. The Congress is the only opposition party that has the sizable strength to win a seat.

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To prevent a situation where the Congress could lose the election, the MVA leaders held parleys on Tuesday. A senior Pawar faction leader said that the Pawar and Thackeray factions had suggested that the MVA field Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, a descendant of Maratha king Shivaji, as an independent to prevent the BJP from fielding a fourth candidate to split Congress votes.

“It would be difficult for the BJP to force Congress MLAs to cross-vote against Shahu Maharaj, especially in a scenario when the demand for Maratha reservation is at its peak,” said an insider. However, Congress leaders have denied these reports. “We have got no such suggestion from Pawar Saheb,” said Nana Patole.

As part of its strategy, the BJP got Ashok Chavan to join the party ahead of the RS polls and is likely to field him. But it has made other Congress MLAs who want to jump ship wait until the conclusion of the RS polls. The Congress MLAs could be asked to cross-vote to ensure the victory of the additional candidate. “If the Congress MLAs resign, the quota required to win RS seats will drop, giving an advantage to the Congress,” said a BJP leader. “Instead, they will be asked to cross-vote. The strategy is to win the additional seat on second-preference votes, like how we won Dhananjay Mahadik’s seat in the June 2022 RS polls.”

Apart from the cross-voting, the ruling parties are also betting on over 10 votes of the Sharad Pawar faction and 14 votes of the Thackeray faction. Leaders from the BJP claim that the whips issued by the “real” Shiv Sena and NCP will be applicable to these MLAs and they will face disqualification if they defy the whips.

Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut dismissed the argument. “Both the factions in the MVA are independent entities with separate symbols and names, and this has been ratified by the Election Commission and the Supreme Court,” he said. “The BJP has been spreading misinformation, but we will show our strength on voting day. Our candidate will easily win.”

As far as cross-voting is concerned, legal experts said it was possible in the RS elections, as disqualification here was a lengthy process and there was no specified time limit for the Speaker to take a decision. “By that time, the state assembly elections will be announced,” said former Maharashtra legislature secretary Dr Anant Kalse.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Surendra P Gangan is Senior Assistant Editor with political bureau of Hindustan Times’ Mumbai Edition. He covers state politics and Maharashtra government’s administrative stories. Reports on the developments in finances, agriculture, social sectors among others.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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