Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party won all five seats it contested in the Maharashtra legislative council elections on Monday, Mohit Kamboj, its leader from Mumbai, claimed that three MLAs of the party indulged in ”cross-voting”.
In a WhatsApp message that went viral, Kamboj, who has worked as the BJP's Mumbai unit functionary, said, ”We got 134 votes while one vote was wasted. Three BJP MLAs cross-voted. Three MLAs of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi did not vote for us.”
The BJP had fielded five candidates -- Pravin Darekar, Ram Shinde, Uma Khapre, Shrikant Bharatiya and Prasad Lad -- of which the first four bagged the minimum quota of votes required to win the poll in the first round of counting. Lad won in the second round, while the Congress's Chandrakant Handore lost.
Kamboj is known for his proximity to senior BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Earlier, reacting to the party's victory, Fadnavis had said, ”There is a lot of speculation about cross-voting, etc, but I alone know who voted for which candidate. I thank all the independent MLAs and small parties for their support.”
Kamboj was not available for comments over his WhatsApp post.
Fadnavis on Monday said the legislative council election results indicate unrest among ruling MLAs against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
The BJP pulled off another difficult win in the tight contest, days after it ensured the victory of its third nominee against the Shiv Sena's second candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls for six seats.
Results indication of unrest in MVA: Fadnavis
Fadnavis said the BJP's victory became possible because of the support of all the Independent MLAs and small parties.
In a setback for the MVA, the BJP won all the five seats it contested in the Maharashtra legislative council on Monday, while two candidates each of ruling allies Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena, including Eknath Khadse of the NCP, also sailed through, but their partner Congress suffered a jolt as it managed to bag just one of the two seats it had contested.
"In the Rajya Sabha elections, we managed to win first preference votes of 123 MLAs but in this election, we managed to win 134 votes. This is an indication of unrest among the MLAs against the state government," Fadnavis told reporters after the results were out.
Speaking about how the BJP overcame the numbers crunch, the former chief minister said the BJP didn't have a single vote for its fifth candidate in the MLC polls, but we managed to win that seat.
"This became possible because of the support of all the Independent MLAs and small parties," he added.
"Our fight against the MVA government is for the cause of the people. The BJP managed to win with more votes than the votes polled by (two) candidates of Congress in the MLC polls," he said.
Speaking on cross-voting, Fadnavis said while many assumptions are floating he only knows what exactly happened.
"I know the MLAs and which candidate got their votes," he added.
Our own MLAs didn’t vote for us: Thorat
As the Congress suffered a jolt in the Maharashtra legislative council elections on Monday, its senior leader and minister Balasaheb Thorat said no one can be blamed if the party's own MLAs did not vote for its candidates.
He also called for introspection by the ruling MVA after the BJP managed to outwit it for the second time after the June 10 Rajya Sabha election.
The Congress had fielded Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap and former minister Chandrakant Handore in the council election. Jagtap bagged 19 votes while Handore secured 22 votes in the first round.
The Congress has 44 MLAs in the state assembly but it got only 41 first preference votes. Of its two candidates, Handore lost to the BJP's Prasad Lad.
Sanjay Nirupam, another Congress leader, dubbed the defeat as ”internal sabotage”.
”Bhai Jagtap got votes from some friends, but I can't deny that we lost some votes of our party,” he said.
When asked why the Congress did not even get support from its allies Shiv Sena and NCP, Thorat said, ”No one can be blamed when we don't get our first preference votes. We can't blame anyone. We have to look within.
”We have to introspect where we have gone wrong. We, as the government, have to introspect where we are going wrong. But all three parties have to introspect on this,” Thorat added.
Nirupam, a former Mumbai Congress chief, said it was unfortunate that Handore, who was the first preference candidate of the party, lost to the second preference candidate.
”It's really unfortunate that a Dalit candidate Chandrakant Handore who was supposed to get first preference votes of Congress MLAs lost to the 2nd preference candidate of the Congress party. It's nothing but internal sabotage. My sympathy with Handore. #MLCElection #Maharashtra,” Nirupam tweeted.
BJP won because of ‘MED’: Supriya Sule
The NCP has accused the opposition BJP of indulging in horse-trading and working ”secret pacts” in the Maharashtra legislative council polls which saw the Congress's Handore losing to the BJP's Prasad Lad, while the Shiv Sena alleged that the BJP won only by misusing its powers.
”The analysis will be done by the party seniors. They tried to instigate the Shiv Sena. The results show that all the MLAs are solid behind the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray. You all know what formulae are being used to win the polls,” Sena candidate Sachin Ahir told reporters.
Asked whether the Sena votes split, Ahir said, ”Our votes did not split. This cannot be said (that three votes of the Sena split) as of now. We had to perform the duty as an MVA partner,” Ahir said.
Senior Sena leader Vinayak Raut said the (fifth) BJP candidate has won only because the BJP misused its powers.
The two NCP candidates together bagged 57 votes --- six more than the effective strength of the party in the MLC polls.
NCP state president Jayant Patil said the victory was a display of unity by MLAs of the Sharad Pawar-led party.
When asked about the Congress's defeat, Patil said, ”We will come to know about it tomorrow. Those who have the habit of indulging in horse trade must have engaged in secret pacts and that will slowly come to the fore.”
NCP leader Supriya Sule hit out at the BJP and said the saffron party won because of ”MED” (money and Enforcement Directorate).