A year after losing power in Maharashtra, the BJP has suffered yet another major setback in the state. In the recently held biennial elections to six legislative council seats, the party has won just one, conceding defeat in strongholds once held by formidable saffron leaders.
Among the six Legislative Council seats, three were graduates’ and two teachers’ as well as one local bodies seat. The elections, held on December 1, were the first after the BJP-Sena divorce last year, and a prestige battle for Sena chief and CM Uddhav Thackeray.
While NCP, one of the contenders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state, won Aurangabad and Pune graduates’ constituencies of the state Legislative Council, Congress candidates are leading in Nagpur graduates’ and Pune teachers’ constituency. The Shiv Sena, another contender of MVA, has lost the single seat it contested.
BJP’s defeat in Pune graduates’ constituency is considered to be a big blow to party’s state unit chief Chandrakant Patil, who along with former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had campaigned extensively to retain the seat. Patil represented the constituency before he became a MLA from Kothrud constituency in the 2019 state elections. The defeat in Nagpur too came as a jolt as the constituency has been held by Union minister Nitin Gadkari and Fadnavis’s father Gangadhar Rao Fadnavis.
In the Amravati division teachers’ constituency, an Independent candidate was leading. The Dhule Nandurbar local bodies seat was won by BJP’s Amrish Patel. The by-election was held as Patel, who was earlier with the Congress, quit the party to join the BJP.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar told reporters the result was a reflection of the MVA government’s performance in the last one year. Meanwhile, Fadnavis told news agency ANI the party had “miscalculated” the combined power of the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP.
There 78 seats in the Maharashtra legislative council, of which seven each are graduate and teacher constituencies. To vote in a graduate constituency, one must be a graduate from a recognised university and in a teachers’ constituency, one must be a full-time teacher.