In a major setback to Maharashtra’s ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday won three of the six Rajya Sabha seats, while the ruling combine questioned the eight-hour delay in counting of votes.
The BJP winners include Union minister Piyush Goyal and former state minister Anil Bonde, and Dhananjay Mahadik.
Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, NCP’s Praful Patel and Congress’s Imran Pratapgarhi also won the fiercely-fought elections.
Of the 284 valid votes, Goyal polled 48, Bonde 48, Mahadik 41.56, Raut 41, Pratapgarhi 44 and Patel 43.
The contest was for the sixth seat — the BJP had fielded former MP Dhananjay Mahadik and the Shiv Sena candidate was Sanjay Pawar, who lost. Mahadik and Pawar hail from Kolhapur in western Maharashtra.
The high-stake battle for the sixth turned out to be a nail-biting affair with the Congress and BJP trading charges, even approaching the Election Commission.
“Elections are contested not just for the fight, but the victory. Jai Maharashtra,” tweeted BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, whose refusal to have a consensus candidate for the Rajya Sabha led to elections in the state after 24 years.
The counting of votes started after an eight-hour delay amid complaints of cross voting and rules violation by the BJP and the ruling alliance.
Both BJP and the Shiv Sena approached the Election Commission, alleging cross voting and seeking disqualification of votes.
The poll panel directed the Rajya Sabha election returning officer of Maharashtra to reject the vote cast by Shiv Sena legislator Suhas Kande, after which the counting of votes got underway after 1 am. The first result was out in two hours.
After the stunning setback, Congress leaders admitted shortcomings in coordination in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi.
Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat told reporters in Vidhan Bhavan that it is a matter of study as to what went wrong.
”BJP was cunning in holding up the counting and getting one vote invalid. We were confident that all four of our candidates will win comfortably,” the Congress leader said.
Imran Pratapgarhi, the victorious Congress candidate said he was happy with his win but the defeat of Shiv Sena candidate Sanjay Pawar was unfortunate.
NCP leader Praful Patel said he will continue to make sure the concerns of Maharashtra are heard and addressed.
”A huge thank you to all my supporters and well wishers for electing me to serve as the Rajya Sabha Member of the Parliament. I express my heartfelt gratitude to Hon’ble Pawar Saheb and NCP for entrusting me with this responsibility,” he tweeted.
”I am deeply humbled by your support, and I want to assure you that I will continue to work day and night to make sure that your concerns and of my Maharashtra state are heard and addressed,” he added.
Raut blamed the poll panel for the defeat of the fourth MVA candidate.
”Election Commission made our one vote invalid. We objected to two votes but no action was taken on that demand. Election Commission favoured them (BJP),” Raut said.