Maharashtra MLC election 2020: Congress rushes to control damage after Uddhav Thackeray threatens to quit race

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Updated: May 11, 2020 11:18 AM

Maharashtra MLC Election 2020 News: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray heads an alliance government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.

MLC election, Maharashtra MLC electionChief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is among the nine nominees for May 21 MLC election in Maharashtra. (File)

MLC election Maharashtra 2020: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s entry to the state legislative council as a member may be a matter of formality now. However, the whole episode has brought embarrassment for the Shiv Sena supremo and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on several fronts. The initial controversy over the Governor’s reluctance to nominate Uddhav as a member saw the Shiv Sena up the ante against former ally Bharatiya Janata Party, accusing it of making attempts to destabilise the state government. This could only be brought under control after Uddhav personally dialled Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought help to keep his chair in the interest of the coronavirus crisis that his hit Maharashtra the worst.

However, events that transpired in the past 48 hours have only brought further embarrassment for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, exposing the fissures within. Uddhav, who risks losing his chair as Chief Minister if not elected as a member of the legislative council by May 28, received a rude shock when a tug of war escalated over seat-sharing among the MVA constituents for May 21 MLC elections. The Congress party, a constituent of the ruling alliance, had announced two candidates for the polls that could make or break Uddhav’s chief ministership. It eventually announced that it will withdraw one of its two candidates to pave the way for Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s entry to the Legislative Council unopposed. Earlier, the Congress was keen on contesting two of the nine seats that will be up for grabs, forcing the Shiv Sena to say Uddhav will not contest unless elected unopposed.

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP and firebrand leader Sanjay Raut said that Uddhav is not willing to contest the polls and went on to underline that the Congress was firm on contesting two seats which is likely to force a contest. Raut said CM Uddhav is not afraid of contesting but the current situation due to coronavirus doesn’t warrant political battles.

“Uddhav Thackeray personally feels that the election for the nine seats of the Legislative Council take place unopposed. He expects so because he wants to dedicate most of his time to the ongoing fight against coronavirus,” Raut told Hindustan Times.

The Shiv Sena later sent a message to Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat to withdraw the party’s second candidate. This prompted the alliance partner to declare that it will withdraw the second nominee.

“We have decided to field only one out of two nominees for the MLC elections, which means the MVA will have five nominees,” Thorat said on Sunday. Earlier on Saturday, he had tweeted that Rajkishore alias Papa Modi will be the party’s second candidate, besides Rajesh Rathod, a Jalna zilla parishad member whose name was announced from Delhi.

Election to fill all the nine vacat Legislative Council seats will take place on May 21. These seats fell vacant on April 24 and the Election Commission of India had to withhold the polls due to the coronavirus outbreak. The decision to hold elections was taken after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari wrote to the ECI to hold polls at the earliest to avert a political crisis in the state.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who heads an alliance government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, is not a member of either houses of the state legislature. He is one of the nominees for the election. As per the rule, Uddhav should become a lawmaker within six months from date of his oath. In his case, the deadline is May 27.

While the Shiv Sena has finalised the candidature of Uddhav and Neelam Ghore for the May 21 polls, the opposition BJP has fielded Pravin Datke, Gopichand Padalkar, Ajit Gopchade, and Ranjit Singh Mohite Patil. The NCP led by Sharad Pawar has fielded Shashikant Shinde and Amol Mitkari.

In the 288-member Legislative Assembly, the ruling MVA has 154 MLAs (Shiv Sena 56, NCP 54 and Congress 44) and the BJP has 105 MLAs. The saffron party enjoys the support of 14 others, taking the toll to 119.

The last date for filing nominations is May 11 and the polling will take place on May 21. Counting will be done on the same day. The Upper House of the state legislature which has 78 chairs. The quota for a winning candidate is 29 votes.

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