Congress issues whip, but Sena seeks at least two votes for Sanjay Pawar

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Even as the BJP made special arrangements to ferry two of its ailing MLAs from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad by a well-equipped ambulance for the Rajya Sabha elections on Friday, the state Congress unit on Thursday issued a whip to all its 44 MLAs, asking them to cast their preferential votes in favour of the party’s candidate Imran Pratapgrahi. However, party leaders said a final decision will be taken after discussion with MVA constituents.

“Each candidate needs 41 preferential votes. We want to ensure that our candidates get the required votes even if some votes turn invalid,” former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told The Indian Express Thursday late evening.

Chavan said though the whip has been issued, discussions with the other constituents are still underway. “The Shiv Sena has been urging us to give at least two votes to MVA candidate Sanjay Pawar. We will have to consider it. We are still discussing it. A final decision will be taken by tonight,” Chavan said. Congress chief spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “We have issued a whip to all party MLAs to vote for our candidate. Though the whip does not mention anything about the second preferential, it will go to Sena candidate Sanjay Pawar.”

The MVA constituents, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, have fielded a candidate each while the third partner in the ruling coalition, the Shiv Sena, has fielded two candidates. While one candidate each of the Sena, Congress and NCP is expected to have a cakewalk, the fourth MVA candidate has a fight on his hands to secure the required votes. The three parties need 41 MLAs each to get one candidate elected and it’s the second candidate of Shiv Sena who is proving to be a headache for the MVA.

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In all, there are seven candidates in the fray for the six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra. BJP has fielded three candidates and has the adequate number of MLAs to send two of them to the Upper House.

NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade said, “The independents and smaller party MLAs are with us and therefore, we will have no trouble in winning the fourth seat as well.”

Kakade said an NCP team on Thursday met Bahujan Vikas Aghadi chief Hintendra Thakur. “I also made him speak to our party chief Sharad Pawar. They spoke but I have no clue what transpired between them,” he said.

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