A few days before the 10 June Rajya Sabha polls, Shiv Sena MLAs arrived at South Mumbai's five-star Trident Hotel, on Tuesday, 7 June, after the party moved its MLAs from a suburban resort in North Mumbai's Malad.
The Sena legislators were summoned to Mumbai, and arrived on Tuesday evening, to stay together in an attempt to ward off poaching till the polls for the Upper House of Parliament.
A meeting of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) began on Tuesday evening with Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, NCP's Sharad Pawar, Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge present at The Trident, among others.
The Sena has gathered its MLAs since it accused the BJP of “horse-trading” and using central government mechanisms to put pressure on independent MLAs.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackarey, on Tuesday evening, said: "No matter how hard anyone tries, all 4 MVA candidates will go to Delhi as Rajya Sabha MPs."
"Maharashtra has a tradition of decency, and the same should be maintained by Opposition too," the Shiv Sena President added.
Party MLA Sunil Prabhu said that party leaders were in 'The Retreat' at Madh Island along with all their ministers as a "part of our strategy." Prabhu added that the ministers will be moved to ‘The Trident’ hotel in South Mumbai.
The party’s hotel of choice, The Trident, is just a few minutes away from Maharashtra’s Legislative Assembly where polls are set to take place for six Rajya Sabha seats. The polls are the first time in more than two decades that the state will witness a contest in the Rajya Sabha polls, with seven candidates in contention for six seats.
Since the sudden death of Ramesh Latke, an MLA from Andheri East, the Sena has 55 MLAs in the 288-member house.
Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena party President Uddhav Thackeray met the MLAs and supporters of his party on Monday.
Seven Candidates, Six Seats
While the Sena has fielded Sanjay Pawar and Sanjay Raut, the BJP has nominated Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik. The NCP and Congress have two candidates in the fray, Praful Patel and Imran Pratapgarhi respectively.
Given the BJP’s strength in the Assembly, the party has enough votes to win two seats while the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena can win one seat each. The contest for the sixth seat is set between Pawar and Mahadik.
The Congress, with 44 seats, NCP with 52 and the Sena with 55 seats are all part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and have enough votes to win a second seat for the Sena.
Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole on 7 June said that all their MLAs were together along with independent leaders.
“All four candidates from Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) will be elected in the upcoming Rajya Sabha election on 10 June,” Patole said.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan said, "Congress candidate will certainly be elected. We have no threat, have formed our strategy," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
The Maharashtra Assembly currently has a single vacant seat, while two NCP MLAs, Anil Deshmukh and minister Nawab Malik are currently in jail.
Other than the BJP, Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, the Assembly has 25 MLAs belonging to smaller parties and independents.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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