Maharashtra Rajya Sabha vote: 2 bails rejected, setback to Team Thackeray

Nawab Malik has been in jail since his arrest in a money laundering case in February. (file photo)

In a major blow to Maharashtra’s ruling coalition, a court today rejected the bail of two arrested leaders, Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, whose votes were crucial in tomorrow’s Rajya Sabha elections.

The setback came a day before an election in which every vote would be counted and decisions could be wired.

Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik has been in jail since his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case in February. Former state home minister Anil Deshmukh is also in jail on similar charges.

He had requested one day’s bail to cast his vote in the Rajya Sabha elections on Friday, but the court agreed with the Enforcement Directorate’s contention that “prisoners do not have voting rights”.

Both are members of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is part of the Shiv Sena-led alliance with the Congress.

At the same time, the opposition BJP took an advantage today as its leader Devendra Fadnavis took a basic test for COVID, meaning he can vote tomorrow.

Elections will be held for six Rajya Sabha seats in Maharashtra and the state will contest for the first time in more than two decades with seven candidates.

Shiv Sena has fielded two candidates Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar. The opposition BJP has fielded three candidates- Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik.

Ruling alliance partners NCP and Congress have nominated one candidate each, Praful Patel and Imran Pratapgarhi.

A candidate needs 42 votes to win a Rajya Sabha seat.

The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi has the numbers to win three out of six Rajya Sabha seats for which 288 MLAs will vote.

The BJP, which had 106 members in the assembly, may win two on its own, but has fielded a third between the BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik and the Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Pawar for the sixth seat.

Smaller parties and independents – they have 29 MLAs – will play a big role in deciding who wins.

The BJP has 22 additional votes and claims to have the support of seven independent MLAs. She is trying to bridge the gap by garnering the support of 13 more.

Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress shifted their MLAs to the resort to prevent any betrayal and cross voting.

The coalition has 26 additional votes and needs 16 votes to win the sixth seat.

With former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis reaching out to independent MLAs for support, the BJP has also quarantined its members.

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