The ruling alliance partners in Maharashtra, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, are set for a clash again in the biennial elections to the Legislative Council, after a bitter face-off in the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll.
Elections will be held on June 25 for the Mumbai Graduates’, Mumbai Teachers’, Konkan Graduates’ and Nashik Teachers’ constituencies for the Legislature’s Upper House. The terms of sitting members - Deepak Sawant (of Shiv Sena - Mumbai Graduates), Kapil Patil (of Lok Bharati party - Mumbai Teachers), Niranjan Davkhare (who switched over from NCP to BJP - Konkan Graduates) and Apoorva Hire (an independent - Nashik Teachers) - are expiring on July 7.
The elections have assumed significance as the Shiv Sena has denied ticket to Deepak Sawant, the state health minister, from the Mumbai Graduates’ constituency which he represented for two consecutive terms. Besides, the election in the Konkan Graduates’ seat is also going to be keenly watched as sitting MLC Niranjan Davkhare last month quit the NCP to join the BJP. Total 71 candidates are in fray for the four seats. The ruling allies will clash in the Konkan and the Mumbai Graduates’ constituencies.
Davkhare of the BJP will take on Sena’s Sanjay More in the Konkan Graduates’ seat. The NCP has fielded Najeeb Mulla, who has support of the Congress and other like-minded parties. In the Mumbai Graduates’ seat, Vilas Potnis of the Shiv Sena is pitted against BJP’s Amit Mehta. The Congress and the NCP have lent support to independent Rajendra Korde.
Jalinder Sarode of the Lok Bharati party is also in fray from the seat.
In the Mumbai Teachers’ seat, Shiv Sena’s Shivaji Shendge will clash with sitting MLC Kapil Patil (Lok Bharati). Patil has the support of the Congress and the NCP while the BJP is backing independent nominee Anil Deshmukh. In Nashik Teachers’ seat, BJP’s Aniket Patil is pitted against 23 independents. The NCP is supporting independent candidate Sandeep Bedse.
When asked about the ruling allies pitted against each other in two of the four Council seats going to polls, BJP spokesman Keshav Upadhyay said his party is in favour of an alliance. “If the alliance materialises in future, we will contest together,” he added.
Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said his party had never contested the teachers’ and graduates’ constituencies in the Legislative Council but supported independents and like-minded parties. A graduates’ constituency is one in which only graduates from any recognised Indian university, or having an equivalent qualification, can vote.
In a teachers’ constituency, only a full-time teacher in at least a secondary school or higher is eligible to vote. In the 78-member Maharashtra Legislative Council, 31 MLCs are elected by the state Assembly members, 21 by local authorities, 12 are nominated by the governor and seven each (total 14) are elected by graduates and teachers. The constituencies, seven each for teachers and graduates, are (division wise) - Mumbai, Pune, Konkan, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik, and Amravati.