Mumbai: In the first electoral test of the Shinde-Fadnavis government in Maharashtra, Opposition Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has won two and is leading in one of the five graduate and teachers’ legislative council seats while the BJP, in a major upset, lost the Nagpur seat –the home turf of deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari. The party is trailing in one more Vidarbha seat of Amravati. The BJP, however won the Konkan seat, the stronghold of Shiv Sena (UBT), while Congress rebel and independent candidate Satyajeet Tambe won the Nashik seat.
The three teachers’ constituencies of Konkan, Aurangabad and Nagpur, and two graduates constituencies of Nashik and Amravati went to polls on 30 January and counting of votes began Thursday.
The ruling BJP lost the Nagpur teachers’ constituency to MVA candidate Sudhakar Adbale (Congress) who defeated Nagorao Ganar by a margin of 8,489 votes. This is the second time the BJP lost in Nagpur. The party could not win the graduates’ constituency election in 2020 for the legislative council when Congress took the seat which was once with Gadkari.
However, Fadnavis told the media Thursday, “We could not win Nagpur but that seat was fought by the teachers’ parishad. Both Konkan and Nagpur seats are fought by the parishad but we asked them to give it to us so we can fight directly. In Konkan they agreed while in Nagpur they did not so we supported their candidate. But we could not win and we are upset about it.”
Congress leader Sunil Kedar, who along with Vijay Waddetiwar had spearheaded the campaign, told media, “It is an MVA victory and full credit to Adbale who was preparing for the polls for the last one and a half years. He brought many people into the organisation, held protest marches of over one lakh teachers in the assembly last December to have their demands heard. This is a testimony of MVA’s acceptance among people.”
“We are happy where we won but we will introspect where we lost and will work accordingly,” said Fadnavis.
BJP sources said to ThePrint that anti-incumbency and the government’s decisions over the old pension scheme could be the reasons for their defeat. Under the old pension scheme, an employee is entitled to a 50 per cent amount of the last salary drawn as pension. Under the New Pension Scheme, government and staff both contribute — 10 and 14 per cent of the salary, respectively — towards a fund from which the pension is later drawn.
In the winter session, Fadnavis had said that the government will not revive the old pension scheme but a month later, during the campaign in Aurangabad, he said that they will see if financially they can work around.
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Congress clawing back in Nagpur
Nagpur, which was once a Congress bastion in the 1990s but had ceded space to the BJP over the years, is slowly going back to Congress. Nagpur is the home ground of Devendra Fadnavis, Nitin Gadkari, as well as the headquarters of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS).
Not just the current MLC elections, but since 2020, the party has been wresting seats from BJP, especially in the rural.
Last year, of 13 panchayat samitis, the Congress got its chairperson elected in nine, while the BJP’s tally was zero. The Congress also retained the post of president and vice-president in the zilla parishad.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP almost swept Nagpur winning 10 out of 11 seats, however, it could manage to win only seven seats in 2019 with Congress winning three and an independent winning the remaining seat.
Congress rebel wins
Out of the five constituencies that went to polls, four saw a direct contest between the BJP and the MVA while Nashik graduates’ constituency was fought by Congress’ rebel candidate Satyajeet Tambe as an independent candidate.
In Nashik, Tambe won the seat against another Independent, Shubhangi Patil, who was backed by the MVA, by a margin of 29,465 votes. His father Sudhir Tambe had held the post for three terms as a Congress legislator but in a high drama on the last day of filing nomination, Sudhir did not fill the form but his son went ahead with his.
“I give all the credit to my father for working in this constituency for many years,” Satyajeet, who has been suspended from Congress for six years, told the media Thursday.
(Edited by Smriti Sinha)
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