In a clear indication of cross-voting by several of the Opposition legislators, the ruling BJP nominee Prasad Lad on Thursday romped home in the Maharashtra Legislative Council bypoll, by trouncing Congress candidate Dilip Mane by a handsome margin.
BJP’s Lad defeated Mane of the Congress in the State Council bypoll by a huge margin of 136 votes.
While Lad secured as many as 209 votes, Mane polled mere 73 votes — a fact that came as a big surprise considering that the Opposition Congress (42) and NCP (41) have a collective strength of 83 MLAs in the 288-member State Assembly.
Apart from the
cross-voting indulged in by at least nine Opposition Congress and NCP MLAs, what helped bring down Mane’s tally was the fact that one of the two incarcerated NCP MLAs could not cast his vote in the poll.
Similarly, the BJP nominee was handicapped by the fact that Shiv Sena legislator ad Minister of State for Textiles Arjun Khotkar could not vote as his 2014 election as MLA from Jalna was recently annulled by the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay
High Court Given that the ruling Shiv Sena with a strength of 63 MLAs had extended its support to him, that he enjoyed the support of seven independents and one Sena MLA could not vote, Lad – riding on the back of the ruling BJP’s strength of 122 MLAs –would have in the normal course polled 191 votes.
However, Lad polled 209 votes, which was 18 votes more than the combined ruling saffron alliance strength in the Assembly.
The bypoll had been necessitated by the resignation tendered by Rane who, it may be recalled, had quit Congress and given up his membership in the Maharashtra Legislative Council on September 21.
Rane -- who after quitting the Congress floated a new political outfit “Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha” and subsequently joined the BJP- led NDA in the hope that he might land a berth in the Maharashtra Cabinet—had lobbied for the ruling BJP’s support to contest the December 7 State Council by-poll.
However, the ruling BJP had given part ticket to Lad, a confidant of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, to contest the by-poll. In Thursday’s by-poll, one of the incarcerated NCP legislators – Chhagan Bhujbal not cast his vote, while another “behind the bars” MLA Ramesh Kadam exercised his right, since he came to the Vidhan Bhavan after taking the prison authorities’ permission.
Two AIMIM MLAS – Waris Pathan and Imtiaz Jalil - did not cast their votes in the election. In addition, two votes were declared invalid in the by-poll.
Of the Opposition MLAs, Sr Rane’s son Nitesh Rane, who continues to be a Congress MLA, and another Rane Supporter Kalidas Kolambkar are suspected to have
cross-voted in the polls, while the NCP’s Ramesh Kadam announced openly that he voted in favour of Lad.