Two candidates each of the ruling allies Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena and five candidates fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls on Monday, 20 June.
The voting ended at 4 pm on Monday, with all the 285 eligible MLAs casting their vote, including some ailing legislators who were taken to the legislature complex on wheelchairs, an official from the Vidhan Bhavan said.
The Shiv Sena's winners were Sachin Ahir and Amshya Padvi, whereas the Nationalist Congress Party's were Eknath Khadse and Ramraje Nimbalkar, ANI reported.
The BJP's Shrikant Bharti, Praveen Darekar, Uma Khapre, Ram Shinde and Prasad Lad won five seats, while the Congress' Bhai Jagtap won in the second round of counting.
The Congress, meanwhile, alleged foul play, stating that two ailing BJP MLAs used their assistants to cast their votes.
The polling process had commenced at 9 am.
"Till 1 pm, 246 MLAs exercised their franchise," an official from the Vidhan Bhavan said.
Congress Objects to 2 Unwell BJP MLAs Casting Votes Via Assistants
Alleging that two ailing MLAs of the BJP cast their votes in the polls using their assistants, the Congress submitted a complaint to poll officials.
Senior Congress leader and Maharashtra minister Ashok Chavan said two legislators of BJP – Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap – signed on the ECI's register.
"If they could sign on the register, there was no need for an assistant to be with them to fill in the preferential ballot paper during the election," Congress alleged.
"The objection is raised by Congress party's candidates for the MLC election,'' said Chavan.
He said a written application objecting to the votes cast by Tilak and Jagtap was submitted to the returning officer of the Election Commission of India. "Officials concerned will take a call on the objections raised by the Congress candidates," he added.
However, the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, said the two legislators had taken prior permission to cast their votes with an assistant. "It is highly insensitive to raise objections regarding the legislators who are unwell. It is an attempt to waste time," he said.
It may be mentioned that Tilak and Jagtap had taken similar permissions from the ECI to cast their votes in the 10 June Rajya Sabha elections. No objections were raised on that day.
Former principal secretary to Vidhan Bhavan, Anant Kalse, said, "If a legislator is unwell, he or she can seek proper permission from the ECI to exercise the franchise with the help of an assistant. The assisting person should be above 18 years."
Supreme Court Declines Temporary Release of Jailed NCP MLAs To Cast Votes
The Supreme Court on Monday declined the plea of jailed Nationalist Congress Party leaders and MLAs Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh seeking temporary release from prison to cast their votes in the Maharashtra Legislative Council election.
A vacation bench of Justices CT Ravikumar and Sudhanshu Dhulia, however, issued notice to the Maharashtra government and others in the case and agreed to examine the issue relating to the interpretation of Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, which bars jailed persons from voting.
"In view of the larger question with respect to interpretation of Section 62(5) of Representation of the People Act 1951, we are of the view that matter has to be heard in detail. It's open for the parties to complete the pleadings within four weeks."
"On the question of interim relief taking note of the fact that the constitutional validity of Section 62(5) was upheld by the Supreme Court in the Anukul Chandra Pradhan Vs Union of India case and S Radhakrishnan Vs Union of India, we are not inclined to grant interim relief," the bench said.
A total of 11 candidates are in the fray for 10 seats, with Maha Vikas Aghad (MVA) allies Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, and Congress fielding two candidates each. The BJP has nominated five candidates.
The state MLAs form the electoral college for the elections and the quota for first preference votes per candidate to win the MLC polls is 26.
Independent, Smaller Parties Crucial
Independent and smaller parties are crucial in these polls as the ruling MVA has been struggling to get all of its six candidates elected to the State Legislative Council.
This stands out especially after the alliance of the Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress was trumped by the BJP in the recently held Rajya Sabha elections in Maharashtra.
The four major parties, over the last few days, held discussions with the smaller players to come up with a winning election strategy. Smaller parties and Independents account for 25 MLAs in the House.
Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday, 19 June, had said that there would be no split in his party-led MVA and added that there would be no cross-voting. The BJP, on the other hand, has been confident that all its five candidates will win.
How Did the Seats Fall Vacant?
While the tenure of nine sitting members of the Legislative Council is coming to an end on 7 July, the 10th seat fell vacant following the death of a BJP legislator RN Singh earlier this year.
The retiring members include, Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Sanjay Daund from the NCP and Leader of the Opposition Pravin Darekar from the BJP.
The effective strength of the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly was reduced to 285 following the death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke. Besides that, two NCP MLAs, Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, are currently in jail and have not been allowed to vote by the Bombay High Court.
Nominations by Parties
The Shiv Sena has nominated Sachin Ahir and Amshya Padvi, from the tribal-dominated Nandurbar district. Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap and former minister Chandrakant Handore were fielded by the Congress.
The BJP, on the other hand, has re-nominated outgoing MLCs Darekar and Lad, and given tickets to Ram Shinde, Uma Khapre and Shrikant Bharatiya.
(With inputs from PTI and NDTV.)