Voting for the biennial elections to 10 seats of Maharashtra Legislative Council continued with both the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and Opposition Bharatiya Janta Party praying for a ‘political miracle’ for the one crucial seat on which there’s a main contest among 11 candidates, here on Monday.
Emerging from their five-star weekend retreats, the legislators of MVA allies Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress and BJP were driven in buses to the Maharashtra Legislature at Nariman Point with senior leaders keeping a close watch on their respective flocks.
Polling started on a brisk note with over 225 MLAs across party lines casting their votes under the eagle eyes of their respective polling agents by 1 p.m.
A total of 11 candidates are vying for the 10 MLC seats vide the electoral college comprising 288 MLAs, though effectively 285 shall vote in the elections on Monday (June 20).
The MLC elections are witnessing a thriller contest with the prime contest between Congress’ Bhai Jagtap and BJP’s Prasad Lad, both vying for the crucial 10th seat.
Jagtap, 66, is a trade unionist heading the Bharatiya Kamgar Karmachari Mahasangh (BKKM) and President of Mumbai Congress, while Lad, 51, is an ex-MLC and ex-chairman of Mumbai Buildings Repair and Reconstruction Board.
Of the 288-member strong lower house, one Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke died recently, while two NCP MLAs Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik – currently in jail – were denied permission by Bombay High Court to vote for the MLC polls and have now moved the Supreme Court.
The quota for winning – depending on the actual votes cast – would be 26 or 27 per candidate, and the votes of 29 MLAs of smaller parties or independents are expected to be the clinching factor.
The MVA has fielded Sachin Ahir and Amasha Padvi (Shiv Sena), Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar and Eknath Khadse (Nationalist Congress Party), Chandrakant Handore and Bhai Jagtap (Congress).
The BJP has nominated Pravin Darekar, Prof Ram Shinde, Shrikant Bhartiya, Uma Khapre and Prasad Lad.
With a strength of 106, the BJP can comfortably bag four of the five seats it is contesting and the battle will be for Lad’s candidature vis-A-vis Jagtap.
The Sena with 55 legislators and NCP with 51 MLAs can easily win their two seats respectively, while the Congress with 44 legislators would require around a dozen votes from the independents, smaller parties or its allies.
Both MVA and BJP are desperately wooing the independents and smaller parties though the Samajwadi Party, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi have kept their strategies close to their chest.
BJP appoints new bosses for Maharashtra, Mumbai
The Bharatiya Janata Party has appointed former ministers Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ashish Shelar as the chief of the part’s Maharashtra and Mumbai units, respectively, according to an announcement.
Bawankule and Shelar, both sitting legislators, replace Chandrakant Patil and Mangal Prabhat Lodha, who have been appointed as ministers in the government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, earlier this week.
As per a statement by BJP President J. P. Nadda, both appointments are made with immediate effect, and come ahead of the imminent elections to various civic bodies in the state.
CM Eknath Shinde snubs Thackeray again, drops Shiv Sena from BAC meet
In a fresh snub to ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray, his Shiv Sena faction in the Maharashtra Assembly was dropped from the crucial Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meet to prepare for the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Legislature.
Thackeray faction leader and chief whip Ajay Chaudhari had written to Speaker Rahul Narvekar seeking representation to the BAC, but it was rejected.
However, now two ministers from the faction headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde have been included in the BAC — Dada Bhuse and Uday Samant.
The BAC presided over by Shinde and attended by group leaders of all parties on Thursday decided to extend the Monsoon Session by two days and now it will be held from August 17-25.
This was because the legislature will not function on August 19 (Dahi Handi celebrations) and the weekend, and the two additional days would enable discussions and decisions on various issues.
The BAC comprises Assembly members like Shinde, BJP’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, NCP’s Jayant Patil, BJP’s Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil, and Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan.
Besides, there are other invitees like Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal (NCP), Ashish Shelar (BJP), Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP) and Amin Patel (Congress) in the BAC.
From the Council, besides Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe, the BAC has newly-appointed Leader of Opposition Ambadas Danve and Anil Parab, both from Shiv Sena, Pravin Darekar and Vijay Girdhar (BJP), Shashikant Shinde (NCP) and Bhai Jagtap (Congress).
The invitees from the upper house included Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil (BJP), Jayant Patil (PWP), Kapil Patil (Lok Bharati) and Vikas Potnis (Shiv Sena).
After the government headed by Shinde and Fadnavis was sworn-in on June 30, the monsoon session was originally scheduled to start on July 17, but was postponed for various reasons.
Skeletons peep out of Maharashtra CM’s ‘mini-cabinet’, 75% ministers face criminal cases
The 18-member ‘mini-cabinet’ expansion of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have thrown up many facts, including 75 per cent of the total 20 ‘crorepati’ ministers have criminal cases lodged against them.
According to a study conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a total of 15 ministers have declared criminal cases, including seven from the Shinde Group Shiv Sena and eight from the BJP, in the ‘gents only cabinet’.
Of these, 65 per cent — or 13 ministers — including seven from Shinde Group and six from the BJP have serious criminal cases filed against them.
Of the 20 crorepatis, BJP’s Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a reputed builder, is the richest among the ministers with assets worth Rs 441.65 crore and liabilities of Rs 283.36 crore.
Though a ‘crorepati’, the poorest in the lot is also BJP’s Sandipanrao A. Bhumre with assets of Rs 2.92 crore in his name.
The average assets of the ministers’ whose poll affidavits were analysed by ADR comes to Rs 47 crore — comprising the BJP’s Rs 58 crore and Shinde Group’s Rs 36 crore.
On the academic front, two ministers (or 10 per cent) have declared their educational track record as SSC pass, six (30 per cent) as HSC pass, 11 ministers (55 per cent) are higher qualified with degrees, and only one Dr. Suresh Khade of the BJP holds a doctorate from a university in Sri Lanka.
As far as the age group is concerned, 16 ministers (80 per cent) fall in the upper echelons aged between 51-70, and four (20 per cent) are between 41-50, said the ADR’s Maharashtra Election Watch, coordinated by Ajit Ranade, Sharad Kumar and Satish Khot.
CM Shinde carried out his much-awaited cabinet expansion on Tuesday, inducting 18 ministers, including three allegedly ‘tainted’. No women MLA could find a place in the cabinet and so could not the Independents and smaller parties.
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