Voting for elections to 10 seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council began in the state Legislature complex here on Monday morning. The polling process, which commenced at 9 am, will end at 4 pm and the results will be declared in the evening.
A total of 11 candidates are in the fray for the 10 seats, with the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – fielding two candidates each. The opposition BJP in the state has nominated five candidates.
NCP MLAs Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, who are currently in jail, have sought permission from the Supreme Court to cast their votes.
While the tenure of nine sitting members of the Legislative Council is coming to an end on July 7, the election for the 10th seat was necessitated following the death of a BJP legislator earlier this year.
The nine retiring members of the Legislative Council are its present Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and Sanjay Daund (both NCP), Leader of Opposition Pravin Darekar, Sujitsinh Thakur, Prasad Lad (all BJP), Maratha leader Vinayak Mete and former minister Sadabhau Khot (both allies of the BJP), state Industries Minister Subhash Desai and Diwakar Raote (both Shiv Sena). The tenth seat fell vacant following the death of BJP MLC R N Singh.
The NCP has fielded Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and former minister Eknath Khadse, who had quit the BJP to join the Sharad Pawar-led party. The Shiv Sena has nominated Sachin Ahir and Amshya Padvi, a party functionary from the tribal-dominated Nandurbar district.
The Congress has fielded Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap and former minister Chandrakant Handore. The BJP has renominated outgoing MLCs Darekar and Lad, and given tickets to Ram Shinde, Uma Khapre and Shrikant Bharatiya.
The state MLAs form the electoral college for the MLC elections. The effective strength of the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly is reduced to 285 following the death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, while two NCP MLAs – Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh – are currently in jail and are not allowed to vote by the high court.