Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Thursday wrote to the Election Commission of India (ECI) requesting it to declare polls to the nine vacant seats of the state Legislative Council 'at the earliest'.
Koshyari's decision to request the poll panel to hold elections comes despite the state cabinet's two recommendations to the him to nominate Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to the Upper House of the state legislature through the Governor's quota.
He has to get elected to either House of the legislature by May 27.
The Election Commission is likely to discuss holding legislative council polls in Maharashtra, which were deferred due to the spread of the coronavirus, on Friday.
Sources in the poll panel said though they have not received the communication of the Governor so far, the issue could be discussed on Friday as all three ruling alliance partners in Maharashtra -- the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress -- have appealed to the EC to conduct the Legislative Council polls, saying social distancing and other precautions can be taken during the voting procedure.
Since the Raj Bhavan has written, the communication would also be on the Commission's table on Friday, the sources said.
A statement issued by the Raj Bhavan said a letter written by Uddhav Thackeray requesting the Governor to write to the ECI regarding holding of the biennial elections was handed over to him on Thursday evening.
The letter was handed over by state Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena secretary Milind Narvekar, it said.
The biennial elections to the nine seats from the MLAs' quota, which fell vacant on April 24, were postponed by the ECI in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thackeray was sworn in as the chief minister on November 28 last year when he was not a member of the legislature. As per the rule, he has to get elected as legislator within six months.
The tenure of the two vacant seats from the governor quota ends by mid-June.
Meanwhile, state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, the legislature party leader of the Congress said that Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have written separate letters to the ECI requesting it to hold elections to the nine vacant council seats to avoid uncertainty over continuance of Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister.
Thorat said the letter mentions that the Maha Vikas Aaghadi, comprising Sena, NCP and Congress, enjoys a clear majority in the Legislative Assembly and Thackeray has won the vote of confidence in the 288-member state assembly.
Thorat said that in his letter to the ECI, he has mentioned that social distancing norms and all lockdown protocols will be followed during the election process.
Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the decision of the governor to write to the ECI.
He said the Governor has followed the constitutional norms and precedent that a Governor-nominated member should not be a minister or a chief minister.
"I am confident that the ECI will consult the Ministry of Home Affairs and announce the election dates soon. I wish the chief minister well. Ina democratic process, solutions can be found through dialogue. There is no point in criticising a person holding a constitutional post," he said.
Among the nine seats which fell vacant the Bharatiya Janata Party had three, Congress two, NCP three and Shiv Sena one.
But according to the present numbers in the Assembly, BJP is slated to get four, Shiv Sena and NCP two each and Congress one.