Maharashtra Legislative Council polls: Voting underway in four seats

Voting was underway today for the biennial elections to four seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council. Elections were being held today for the Mumbai Graduates’, Mumbai Teachers’, Konkan Graduates’ and Nashik Teachers’ constituencies of the Legislature’s Upper House.

The terms of sitting members – Deepak Sawant (of Shiv Sena – Mumbai Graduates), Kapil Patil (of Lok Bharati party – Mumbai Teachers), Niranjan Davkhare (who switched over from NCP to BJP – Konkan Graduates) and Apoorva Hire (an independent – Nashik Teachers) – are expiring on July 7. The ruling alliance partners in Maharashtra, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, are clashing in the Mumbai Graduates’, Konkan Graduates’ and Mumbai Teachers’ constituencies.

Besides, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and the Lok Bharti Party are also in fray in the four seats, making it a tough contest for all candidates. In the Mumbai Graduates’ seat, Amit Mehta of the BJP is pitted against Shiv Sena’s Vilas Potnis. The Congress and the NCP have extended their support to PWP candidate Rajendra Korde in the seat, where a total 14 candidates are contesting.

The Shiv Sena has denied ticket to Deepak Sawant, the state health minister, from the Mumbai Graduates’ constituency which he represented for two consecutive terms. In the Mumbai Teachers’ constituency, sitting MLC Kapil Patil of the Lok Bharati is facing a tough challenge from BJP’s Anil Deshmukh and Shiv Sena’s Shivaji Shendge. In the Konkan Graduates’ seat, sitting MLC Niranjan Davkhare, who quit the NCP last month to join the BJP, will take on Sena’s Sanjay More. The NCP has fielded Najeeb Mulla, who has support of the Congress and other like-minded parties.

As many as 22 candidates are contesting from the seat. In the Nashik Teachers’ constituency, BJP’s Aniket Patil, the son of former Union minister and Congress leader Vijay Patil, is pitted against 23 independents. The NCP is supporting independent candidate Sandeep Bedse. A graduates’ constituency is one in which only graduates from any recognised Indian university, or having an equivalent qualification, can vote.

In a teachers’ constituency, only a full-time teacher in at least a secondary school or higher is eligible to vote. In the 78-member Maharashtra Legislative Council, 31 MLCs are elected by the state Assembly members, 21 by local authorities, 12 are nominated by the governor and seven each (total 14) are elected by graduates and teachers. The constituencies, seven each for teachers and graduates, are (division wise) – Mumbai, Pune, Konkan, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik, and Amravati.

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