In a setback to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena combine in Maharashtra, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi-backed candidates clinched two of the five Legislative Council seats, which were up for grabs in biennial elections from teachers and graduates segments, and appeared poised to bag a third seat also.
The BJP managed to win the Konkan division teachers constituency, while Independent candidate Satyajit Tambe, whose rebellion rocked the state Congress ahead of polls, won the Nashik graduates constituency comfortably.
The Nashik graduates constituency, represented by Satyajit Tambes father Sudhir Tambe for three terms, was in focus due to the formers rebellion.
Satyajit Tambe defeated his nearest rival, independent candidate Shubhangi Patil, who was supported by the MVA, by 29,465 votes. Satyajit Tambe won 68,999 votes, whereas Shubhangi Patil bagged 39,534 votes.
Voting for 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 and counting began on Thursday morning. Teachers and graduates fulfilling certain criteria and enrolled as voters formed the electoral college for these elections.
In the Nagpur teachers constituency, the MVA-backed independent candidate Sudhakar Adbale trumped BJP-supported candidate Nagorao Ganar. The teachers constituency of the Nagpur division comprises Bhandara, Gondia, Wardha, Nagpur, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur districts. Twenty-two candidates were in the fray and 34,360 votes polled.
In the Konkan teachers seat, BJP candidate Dnyaneshwar Mhatre defeated MVA-backed nominee Balaram Patil. The seat comprises Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg districts.
Returning officer and Konkan divisional commissioner Mahendra Kalyankar, who announced the results after the counting of the votes in Navi Mumbai, said Mhatre polled 20,683, while Patil bagged 10,997. Although there were eight candidates in the fray, the main contest was between Mhatre and Patil.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Vikram Kale won the Aurangabad teachers constituency seat defeating BJP nominee Kiran Patil.
In the Amravati graduates constituency seat, Congress candidate Dhiraj Lingade was leading against sitting BJP MLC Ranjit Patil, as per trends availabe till late night.
These were the first MLC polls after the Eknath Shinde-led government took charge in June last year. In 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 that resulted in the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-headed MVA government.
Of the five seats, three were from the teachers constituencies. Associations representing government teachers have been demanding implementation of the old pension scheme (OPS).
Under OPS, employees with 20 years of service get 50 per cent of their last drawn salary as their pension.
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 Nationalist Congress Partys Vikram Kale, Konkan by independent candidate Balaram Patil and Amravati by BJPs Ranjit Patil.
The MVA comprises the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). However, there were no candidates directly fielded by either of the Shiv Sena factions. Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole claimed MVA-backed nominee Adbales victory in the Nagpur division seat was a jolt to the saffron party.
Nagpur is the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and also hometown of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari.
Countering Patoles claim, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule said the defeat of Ganar did not reflect the BJPs failure as he did not contest on a party ticket.
All eyes were on the Nashik seat where Satyajit Tambe took the lead from the first round of counting itself and remained ahead till the end.
Regarded as one of the emerging leaders in the state Congress, Satyajit Tambe, who is nephew of senior party leader Balasaheb Thorat, filed his nomination as an independent after his father Sudhir Tambe, the official candidate, opted out of race.
His rebellion jolted the Congress so much that the party dissolved its Ahmednagar district unit. The Congress also suspended the father-son duo.
Bawankule said the BJP had extended support to Satyajit Tambe.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)