Mumbai In what may further muddy the waters in the Maharashtra Congress, an internal review of the party is said to have estimated that at least six MLAs of the party cross-voted in the legislative council elections.
During the legislative council elections on June 20, former minister and Dalit leader Chandrakant Handore lost due to cross voting, resulting in a major embarrassment for the party. The subsequent debacle of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in these elections catalysed the events that eventually caused the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government. On 4 July, during the trust vote against the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government, 12 of the 44 Congress legislators had stayed absent or had reached late.
Senior Congress leader Mohan Prakash had been tasked with examining the reasons for this loss in the council polls and the abstention of 12 legislators during the Eknath Shinde regime’s floor test.
A senior leader of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) said that it was estimated that one legislator from North Maharashtra, two to three from Marathwada and two from Mumbai may have cross-voted in the council polls.
“However, since the elections happened through the secret ballot system, it is difficult to get the names with any certainty,” he admitted. However, disciplinary action could be initiated by the party against some offenders.
Handore, who belongs to the Buddhist Dalit community and is an ex-minister for social welfare, had a quota of 29 first preference votes, but secured just 22 of them. However, Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) president Bhai Jagtap, who was the second candidate of the Congress, and was expected to be in the fight for the 10th seat against Prasad Lad of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 20 votes, instead of his fixed quota of 15, leading to speculations if some votes meant for Handore had shifted to Jagtap.
“Action must be taken against such indiscipline,” demanded Handore, who had met senior leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.
A senior Congress leader confirmed that the report had been submitted to the party leadership, but added that since it was a “confidential report,” the contents had not been disclosed to party functionaries.
There are speculations that the BJP may wean away some Congress and Nationalist Congress Party MLAs to bolster its position in the state legislative assembly.