The BJP is set to become the single largest party in the Maharashtra Legislative Council after the July 16 biennial elections to 11 seats, making the ruling party eligible to stake claim to the post of Chairman of the Upper House of the legislature.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) last week announced the poll schedule for the 11 Council seats in the state falling vacant by July-end. Members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) will vote in these elections.
Of the 11 members whose term will end on July 27, four are from the NCP, three from the Congress, two from the BJP and one each from the Shiv Sena and the Peasants and Workers Party of India (PWP).
Considering their numerical strength in the legislative assembly, the BJP can comfortably win five seats and the Shiv Sena two.
As per an understanding reached between the Congress and the NCP, the former will get two seats and the latter one. PWP MLC Jayant Patil is also expected to retain his seat.
“As per our understanding with the Congress, they had supported us for two (Council) seats (last year), due to which we could elect (Ramraje) Nimbalkar as the Council Chairman and Dhananjay (Munde) as the Leader of Opposition,” an NCP source said. Therefore, in the current round of elections, the NCP will allow the Congress to take two seats, while the Sharad Pawar-led party will take one, he said. “We have already selected Babajani Durrani as our candidate,” the NCP source said.
The current party-wise strength in the 78-member legislative council is as follows: NCP 20, Congress 18, BJP 20, Sena 11, JD-U 1, PWP-I 1, PRP 1 and Independents 6.
As per the poll schedule, the last date for filing nominations is July 5. The scrutiny of nomination papers will be taken up on July 6 and last date for withdrawal is July 9.
Polling will be held on July 16 and results will be declared on the same day in the evening.
Members of the legislative assembly — 288 elected and one nominated — will vote in the polls through secret ballot. Since elections are to be held for 11 seats, the quota required by contesting candidates to win is 25 votes.
The current party-wise strength in the assembly is: BJP 122, Sena 63, Congress 42, NCP 41, PWP 3, BVA 3, MIM 2, MNS 1, SP 1, BBM 1, CPI-M 1, RSP 1, Independents 7 and nominated (Anglo-Indian) 1.
The BJP-Sena and its NDA allies together have a total vote share of about 134, while the opposition Congress-NCP and its allies have a vote share of about 92 votes.
The Congress-NCP, with its current numerical majority, has been controlling the proceedings in the Upper House.
Council Chairman Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar belongs to the NCP, while Deputy Chairman Thakre is from the Congress. The
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “Power equations will change after July 16 as per our strength and existing laws”. A BJP source, requesting anonymity, said the party will push for the Chairman’s post once it becomes the single largest party in the Upper House. NCP’s Ramraje Nimbalkar is currently the Council Chairman,
but could soon lose his post.