The Congress on Friday won the Amravati division graduates constituency, taking the tally of the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) to three in elections for five Maharashtra Legislative Council seats, a result which has come as a jolt to the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party-Balasahebnachi Shiv Sena alliance. Congress candidate Dhiraj Lingade won the Amravati constituency, where counting started on Thursday morning and stretched to more than 32 hours and went on till late Friday afternoon, by defeating sitting legislator Ranjit Patil of the BJP. Thus, Congress has snatched the seat from the BJP.
With this, poll results of all the five seats from teachers and graduates segments of the Council are now available and the outcome shows the MVA, comprising the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has emerged as the clear winner.
Voting for biennial elections to five Council seats - three teachers segments (falling in Nagpur, Konkan and Aurangabad divisions) and two graduates constituencies (Nashik and Amravati divisions) was held on January 30. The results of four other seats of the Upper House of the legislature were declared on Thursday, and two of them were won by the MVA.
In Amravati, Congress nominee Lingade bagged 46,344 votes, while BJP candidate and sitting MLC Patil secured 42,962 ballots, an official said.
MVA-backed contestant Sudhakar Adbale and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Vikrant Kale registered victory from Nagpur and Aurangabad teachers constituencies, respectively. In Nagpur, hometown of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, both BJP heavyweights, Adbale trumped BJP-supported candidate Nagorao Ganar.
BJP candidate Dyaneshwar Mhatre won the Konkan division teachers constituency, while Congress rebel Satyajit Tambe, who revolted against the party ahead of polls, won as an independent from the Nashik division graduates seat. Satyajit Tambe defeated his nearest rival, independent candidate Shubhangi Patil, who was supported by the MVA, by 29,465 votes.
No candidate was fielded by either of the Shiv Sena factions in the elections held to fill up five vacancies in the Upper House of the state legislature.
Talking to reporters, Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said the MLC polls have shown the BJP "who is the king", indicating voters are supreme, and maintained the ruling party's 'house will crumble.' He said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which passed through Vidarbha last year, created enthusiasm among people for the party ahead of the Council polls.
“Vidarbha has remained with the Congress. We (in the past) were hit by wrong coordination and planning. This time everyone worked together and fought this war,” Patole said. “Be it Amravati or the Nagpur division, because of the trouble from BJP leaders (an apparent reference to Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis), many BJP leaders have helped us. You see how their house will crumble,” said the MPCC president.
Buoyed by the victory, Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil said MVA candidates have won with huge margins which indicate the prevailing political mood in the state. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said the BJP's defeat in Vidarbha (where Nagpur and Amravati are located) shows people in the region are 'fed up' with the party.
These were the first MLC polls after the Eknath Shinde-led government took charge in June last year. However, rival Shiv Sena factions (led by Chief Minister Shinde and former CM Uddhav Thackeray) were not in the fray directly. Teachers and graduates fulfilling certain criteria and enrolled as voters formed the electoral college for these elections.
Of the Upper House seats which went to polls, Nashik was held by Congress' Sudhir Tambe (father of Satyajit Tambe), Nagpur by independent candidate Nagorao Ganar, Aurangabad by NCP's Vikram Kale, Konkan by independent candidate Balaram Patil and Amravati by BJP's Ranjit Patil.
State Congress president Patole said he still thinks the Tambe father-son betrayed the party.
While Sudhir Tambe, the party’s official candidate, had opted out on the last day of filing nomination, his son Satyajit submitted his papers as an independent. Congress later suspended the father-son duo. Patole claimed the BJP had a role in Satyajit Tambe’s rebellion. The BJP had backed Tambe at the last minute in the MLC polls.
“You have taken our one legislator. We have planned a strategy to win 50 legislators from the Nashik division,” the Congress leader said. After the last MLC polls held in June 2022, a group of 39 Shiv Sena MLAs led by Shinde, then a Cabinet minister, had rebelled against the party leadership, resulting in the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-headed MVA government.
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