Maha Vikas Aghadi loses two Legislative Council seats to the BJP in Maharashtra

Published : December 15, 2021 19:03 IST

Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister and president, Maha Vikas Aghadi. Photo: Laxman Singh

The elections to the Legislative Council constituencies of Nagpur and Akola-Buldhana-Washim were a close fight and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came out on top, though by a slim margin.

Elections for six Legislative Council seats were announced on December 10 by the Election Commission and four of them were won unopposed, one each by the Congress and the Shiv Sena and two by the BJP.

The real fight was in the remaining two seats of Nagpur and Akola-Buldhana-Washim. The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was confident of winning them. The Akola-Buldhana-Washim seat was already a Sena seat and Gopikrishna Bajaria, its three-term sitting legislator, was confident of a fourth term. This would indeed have been in his grasp, but he lost by a slim margin of 109 votes to the BJP’s Vasant Khandelwal.

In Nagpur, the Congress-backed independent candidate Mangesh Deshmukh tried unsuccessfully to wrest the seat from Chandrashekhar Bawankule, the sitting BJP legislator. Here, too, the scales could have tilted in favour of the Congress. Not only did Bawankule win by a mere 176 votes, but the Congress shot itself in the foot by announcing its support for Deshmukh too late. The Congress candidate, Ravindra Bhoyar, said he was unable to contest. Bhoyar was something of a trophy for the Congress who had weaned him away from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The Nagpur defeat is something of an embarrassment for the Congress even though they are putting up a brave face and saying it should be a “learning experience”. Atul Londhe, general secretary, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee and chief spokesperson, said: “While our candidate was poor, the BJP candidate was financially strong. They resorted to horse-trading. This is really a moral defeat for the BJP.”

It should certainly be a “learning experience” for the MVA because it should have won going by the number of votes available to it. A total of 822 local body representatives voted in this election; 191 of these are from the Congress, 130 from the Sena, 91 from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), 242 from the BJP and the rest are from smaller parties and independents. Clearly, there are issues of local factionalism, horse-trading and feelings of anti-incumbency.

Council elections do not normally make a State hold its breath. But, given the animosity between the Sena and the BJP and the fact that crucial local body elections such as the Mumbai municipal one are due early next year, it is certainly a matter of concern that the BJP has won two seats in the Vidarbha region.

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