Shiv Sena MLAs in Maharashtra have been relocated to a resort ahead of the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in the state. Lawmakers from other Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) voters – the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress – will also be moved to a resort as the ruling coalition shields its MLAs ahead of the upper house vote. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray met independent MLAs on Monday to rally support for the MVA candidate for the sixth seat, as the opposition BJP rejected an offer by the ruling coalition to avoid elections. Mr Thackeray also convened a meeting of all MLAs of the MVA today.
There are a total of 29 independents and smaller parties, eight of whom are believed to support Sena, while many others have yet to reveal their choice.
Determined to face an uphill battle, former BJP chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has been working on the phones and calling MLAs to bolster support despite being infected with Covid.
The Sena MLAs have moved to the Retreat hotel in Malad in the western suburbs of Mumbai. It is the same hotel where Shiv Sena’s MLAs were held in 2019 during the MVA government formation.
The Congress has also convened a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting for the Rajya Sabha elections. It will be attended by Mallikarjun Kharge, the AICC observer for the Rajya Sabha polls.
Elections will be held for six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra on June 10 and the MLA’s shift is seen as a sign of concern over BJP horse-trading ahead of the election. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, while confident that all four of the ruling alliance’s candidates will win the polls, had said on Saturday that they wanted the polls to be postponed so that there is no horse-trading.
For the six seats up for grabs in the state, the BJP has lined up three candidates. In the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) camp, Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP have each drafted one candidate, and the Shiv Sena two.
The big contest will be for the sixth seat, with the BJP turning down the MVA’s offer for an additional seat to avoid elections. The face-off will be between BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik and Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Pawar.
The NCP has already gone to court and asked permission for two of its imprisoned MLAs – Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik – to vote in the elections. Malik has also asked for a day’s bail to vote in the election.
The BJP, which has 106 members in the House, has nominated Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik.
The NCP has re-appointed former Union minister Praful Patel, while Congress has appointed Imran Pratapgarhi. Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar are nominees of the Shiv Sena.
Finance Minister and senior congressional leader Balasaheb Thorat said today they will comfortably win the four seats as the ruling coalition already has more votes than it needs. “All Maharashtra’s MLAs will be together, we have a meeting tonight. We are still discussing whether to move the MLAs from Congress to a hotel,” he told DailyExpertNews.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who has two MLAs in the state, did not offer support explicitly, but has said the MVA should openly ask for their support if they really want to beat the BJP.