Rajya Sabha Elections 2022: Maharashtra heads for a photo finish as Independents, smaller parties hold key

The smaller parties, along with the Independents collectively hold 29 votes, something that could be the decider in this closely watched battle.

Sanjay Raut said that the BJP’s efforts to topple the alliance government will turn fruitless.

Maharashtra is set for an intense battle in the Rajya Sabha elections where a single vote can make all the difference. A day ahead of the D-day, all eyes will are on whether the special court grants a one-day bail to former Maharashtra Home minister Anil Deshmukh and state minister Nawab Malik to cast their vote on Friday. The Enforcement Directorate has strongly opposed the pleas by the two NCP leaders on grounds that prisoners have no right to vote, while citing the Representation of the People Act.

Seven candidates are in fray for the six seats in Maharashtra. The number of votes needed for a candidate to win is 42. In the 288-member legislative assembly, BJP has 106 MLAs, Shiv Sena has 55, the Congress 44 and the NCP, 53, including the two NCP leaders who are in jail. The rest of the smaller parties, along with the Independents collectively hold 29 votes, something that could be the decider in this closely watched battle. Eight Independents and Raj Thackeray’s MNS have already pledged support to the BJP publicly.

The Bahujan Vikas Aghadi with three MLAs, the Samajwadi Party with two MLAs, AIMIM with two MLAs are among the many smaller parties and Independents who are holding their cards close to their chest.

The elections from these six seats were necessitated as the terms of BJP’s Piyush Goyal, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Vikas Mahatma were coming to an end on August 1. Additionally, the terms of Congress’ P Chidambaram, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, and NCP’s Praful Patel are also getting over.

While the main opposition party BJP has named three candidates — Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mhadik — the ruling Shiv Sena has chosen to go ahead with Sanjay Pawar, and has also re-nominated its spokesperson Sanjay Raut. The NCP and the Congress, who are also part of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, have fielded former Union minister Praful Patel and Imran Pratapgadi respectively.

Mathematically speaking, the Maha Vikas Aghadi is strongly placed, even if two of its NCP leaders don’t get to vote. If there is no cross-voting, the Congress will be left with two surplus votes, while the NCP will be left with 9 surplus votes, even if Malik and Deshmukh are not allowed to cast their votes. After the NCP and Congress carry forward their surplus votes to Sena, Uddhav Thackeray’s party will already be left with its own 13 surplus votes after the election of one of its two leaders. The four Independents, who have extended their support to Sena in the state government, are expected to vote for the party in the Upper House elections.

With resort politics being the norm in almost all states, the Shiv Sena has kept all its legislators together in a five-star hotel in South Mumbai, while allies NCP and Congress have shifted all their MLAs to another five-star resort in Mumbai.

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