Blow to BJP, MVA candidates leading in polls for 4 Council seats in Maharashtra

The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA), comprising the ruling parties Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, had an edge over the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as alliance’s candidates were leading after a second round of votes counting in the graduates’ constituencies of Aurangbad, Pune and Nagpur and the teachers’ constituency of Pune. An independent candidate was leading in the teachers’ constituency of Amravati.

The counting of votes for the five seats to Council is underway.

The BJP was on the verge of defeat in Nagpur graduates’ constituency, which it had retained since its inception and was represented by Union minister Nitin Gadkari and the late Gangadharrao Fadnavis, father of former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

In Nagpur graduates’ constituency, Abhijit Wanjari of the Congress was leading by more than 10,000 votes against his nearest rival, Sandip Joshi of BJP during the second round of votes counting. Interestingly, Joshi is a close aide of Devendra Fadnavis, who was camping in Nagpur for a week to campaign for the prestige seat.

In the Pune graduates’ constituency, NCP candidate Arun Lad was leading by more than 10,000 votes against BJP’s Sangram Deshmukh. And in the Pune teachers’ constituency, Congress’s Anant Asgaonkar was leading against BJP’s Dattatrey Sawant, who is also a sitting member in the Council.

NCP’s Satish Chavan was leading Shirish Boralkar of BJP in the Aurangabad graduates’ constituency after the second round of votes counting.

In the Amravati teachers’ constituency, independent candidate Kiran Sarnaik of Washim was ahead of his nearest rivals, Shrikant Deshpande of Shiv Sena and Dr Nitin Dhande of BJP by a margin of around 4,500 votes. Sarnaik is likely to wrest the seat from Sena.

Besides Nagpur, with candidates trailing in both the constituencies of Pune, where BJP had built its base over the past few years, the poll results assumed bad new for the party.

Meanwhile, BJP’s Amrish Patel won the bypolls from Dhule-Nandurbar local bodies’ constituency by defeating MVA’s Abhijit Patil by 234 votes. Patel polled 332 votes, while Patil got 98 votes. Congress leaders expressed surprise over the defeat as MVA has 213 members in local bodies, while BJP’s strength is 199. Patel had switched sides and joined BJP after quitting Congress ahead of the Assembly polls last year.

After forming the government in state last year, MVA was fighting the council elections together for the first time, and although the BJP was confident of its victory in three seats in Pune and Nagpur, the results seem to be a boost for the three parties in the ruling alliance.

Discontent in Congress over nominations

Discontent over party nominations to the legislative Council seats from the Governor quota emerged during Congress’s legislative meeting.

Energy minister and party’s national SC/ST cell chief Nitin Raut expressed his concerns over the nomination of Aniruddha Wankar, a noted lyricist and writer from Vidarbha.

Raut said the party should have preferred one of its own workers instead of Wankar, who had fought against the party in the Assembly elections last year, representing Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi.

Raut and other leaders had also raised objections to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) nominee Yashwant Bhinge, a dhangar leader who polled sizable votes on a VBA ticket in the Lok Sabha polls from Nanded. It is believed that Cong’s Ashok Chavan had to face defeat because of Bhinge.

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