The ruling Congress-Nationalist Congess Party alliance in Maharashtra received a major boost today, as six of its candidates and a Congress-supported independent were elected to the state legislative council of the 10 seats at stake.
There were 11 candidates for the 10 seats, to be filled by voting from the legislative assembly. The Shiv Sena, which was a poor fourth in the 2009 assembly elections, took one seat and its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, won two seats. As expected, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, with 13 members in the 288-member state assembly voted for Congress and NCP candidates, and not for the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.
Three candidates from the Congress and NCP got elected in the first round. They were Husain Dalwai, Sanjay Dutt and Dipti Chaudhari of the Congress and Ramraje Nimbalkar, Vinayak Mete and Prakash Bhinsale of the NCP. The Congress-supported independent Vijay Sawant, who had bagged 13 votes in the first round, had to struggle further and emerged victorious by completing the quota of 27 votes in successive rounds of counting.
The BJP's Dhananjay Munde, nephew of party veteran and former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde, also won in the first round of counting by winning 26 votes. So did Shiv Sena candidate and former minister, Diwakar Raote, by securing 26 votes. Successive rounds saw a close fight between Shiv Sena's Anil Parab and BJP nominee and former minister Shobha Phadnavis. Finally, Phadnavis managed to win.
The Congress, with 82 votes, succeeded in getting six votes from the MNS, while NCP with 62 members got seven MNS votes. The NCP, whose election strategy was drafted and implemented by energy minister Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, managed to get 10 votes from smaller parties and 11 votes of independents supporting the NCP. On the other hand, the Congress failed to do proper floor management, as the party-supported independent, Sawant, incurred a loss in the first round.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who worked tirelessly with state party chief Manikrao Thakre, admitted that the party-supported independent could have bagged more votes in the first round. However, he expressed satisfaction over the victory.