A day before the election for 10 seats in Maharashtra’s Legislative Council, a section of the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) feared that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could spoil their hopes of electing two candidates familiar to Das shared the development on Sunday.
Insiders in the NCP said the BJP may target Eknath Khadse, who is running as one of the two NCP candidates and is said to be an outspoken critic of the BJP and Devendra Fadnavis in particular.
“The BJP may seek to target Khadse given his hostility towards the opposition leader. Some of the NCP’s MLAs or those who support us may be persuaded not to vote for him,” said an NCP leader, asking for anonymity. “This could cause him (Khadse) difficulties as the party is already one vote short when the quota of 26 votes for each of the candidates – Khadse and Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar – is set.”
The NCP has 51 MPs and to win a seat on the council a candidate needs 26 to 27 votes, depending on the votes polled.
“With the exception of the Sena, the other two ruling parties need additional votes to elect their candidates,” a BJP leader said, asking for anonymity.
Adding to the problems for the NCP is that two of its imprisoned MLAs – Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik – have not received permission from the Bombay High Court to cast their votes.
“Competition is really tight and if the BJP manages to match three to four NCP MLAs or those who support the NCP against each other, the equation may change,” the NCP leader cited above said, referring to the secret Voting system to be used in the polls.
The BJP said if Khadse is defeated it means the NCP didn’t want him to win. “NCP will try to defeat Khadse themselves because they have to fulfill all the commitments they would have made to him,” said Madhav Bhandari, vice president of the BJP in Maharashtra. “To ensure Khadse ji’s victory, NCP may make him the first-choice candidate…”
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