- BJP has won only one of five seats in Maharashtra Legislative Council
- Ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition has won four seats
- In Maharashtra, voting also held in a sixth seat for local body polls
The BJP today suffered losses in key polls in Maharashtra, where it lost power last year. Of the six seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council where polling was held earlier this week, the BJP could win only one. The ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition won four seats and an independent member took the remaining seat.
The Shiv Sena did not win a single seat even though its alliance partners bagged four. The Sena’s lone candidate lost in Amravati, where an independent candidate won.
The BJP only won by-polls to the Dhule-Nandurbar local body seat, the results for which were declared earlier.
The BJP appears to have lost out in its perceived strongholds, the graduate constituencies.
Its biggest loss is the Nagpur seat, a party stronghold that was represented in the past by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s father Gangadhar Rao Fadnavis. Mr Gadkari, who first won the constituency in 1989, scored four more victories from there before contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha election that brought the BJP to power at the centre. The Congress has won the Nagpur seat for the first time in 55 years.
BJP leaders, including Mr Fadnavis and Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, also campaigned extensively in Pune, where two seats held by the BJP went to the ruling coalition. The Congress and the NCP won a seat each.
“The results of Maharashtra Legislative Council polls are not as per our expectations. We were expecting more seats but won only one. We miscalculated the combined power of the three parties (Maha Vikas Aghadi),” Mr Fadnavis told reporters.
The NCP or Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar held on to the Aurangabad constituency.
The elections held on Tuesday were seen as a prestige battle between the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and the opposition BJP, which have collided on a range of controversies in recent months. This is the first electoral test for the year-old coalition of ideologically opposite parties, which has repeatedly been derided by the BJP as an unstable entity.
“It was the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s collective effort and their performance of one year which the people gave their mandate for. Especially on the Nagpur’s seat, for many years, we had not scored any success. Gadkari and Fadnavis held the seat for many years. But even in Nagpur, Congress’s win and MVA’s win means people took a different decision this time,” Sharad Pawar said.
Among the ruling coalition partners, the NCP and the Congress contested two seats each and the Shiv Sena fielded its candidate in one seat. The BJP contested four seats and an independent candidate supported by the party contested in another seat.
Over 12 lakh graduates and teachers participated in the biennial polls. Each constituency includes multiple districts, so the number of voters is significant.
The Maharashtra legislative council or upper house has 78 seats. Seven each are “graduate” and “teacher” constituencies. In a graduate constituency, the voter must be a graduate from a recognized university. In a teacher constituency, the voter has to be a full-time teacher.
On December 1, voting took place in the graduate constituencies of Aurangabad, Pune and Nagpur and teacher constituencies of Pune and Amravati.
The BJP’s Amrish Patel retained the Dhule Nandurbar seat. The by-election was held as Mr Patel quit the Congress to join the BJP.