The Shiv Sena has decided to move its MLAs to a luxury hotel at Powai in northeast Mumbai ahead of the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls, a party leader said on Friday, as the ruling coalition spearhead treads a cautious path after being outsmarted by the BJP in the last week's Rajya Sabha polls.
The party, which heads the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), had summoned its legislators for a meeting with top leaders.
Talking to reporters after the meeting here, Shiv Sena leader Anil Desai said all party MLAs were given general instructions about the June 20 polls to the Upper House of state legislature and precautions to be taken during the voting process.
"All the independent MLAs and smaller parties backing the Maha Vikas Aghadi as a whole is good," Desai said.
The meeting was addressed by Sena MPs Vinayak Raut and Anil Desai, Eknath Shinde and Anil Parab, both state ministers and party leader Sunil Prabhu.
"We were addressed by top party leaders and asked to stick together in this polls," a party MLA, who attended the meeting, said.
"The MLAs will stay at Hotel Renaissance," the party leader said, requesting anonymity.
The contest is expected to be a close, just like the Rajya Sabha polls, as 11 candidates are in the fray for 10 vacant Council seats.
The Sena has nominated Sachin Ahir, former NCP leader who joined the party in 2019, and Amasha Padvi, a tribal leader said.
The BJP has fielded five candidates - Pravin Darekar, Prasad Lad, former minister Ram Shinde, Srikant Bharatiya and Uma Khapre.
The NCP, the second largest MVA constituent, has nominated Council chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and former BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who joined the Sharad Pawar-led party 2020.
The electoral college for the poll is members of the 288-strong legislative assembly.
The lower house's strength is down by one due to the death of Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, while NCP MLAs Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, who are in jail in different cases, have not been permitted to vote by the Bombay High Court.
Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) MLA Kshitj Thakur is in the US to meet an ailing relative. This brings the voting members to 285.
Smaller parties and independents account for 25 legislators. The quota for first preference votes is 26 and polling will take place through secret ballot.
The opposition BJP has 106 MLAs, the Shiv Sena 55, the NCP 52 and the Congress 44 (all three are MVA partners).
All parties are exercising caution after the setback received by the MVA in the Rajya Sabha polls where the BJP managed to win a third seat despite the ruling coalition having enough numbers to get its candidate through.
The Sena and the NCP can ensure victory for all their candidates (two each). But the BJP can win only four seats on its own strength, but will require the support of independents and MLAs from smaller parties for a win for its fifth candidate.
The Congress can win one seat on its, but will need the support of its allies to ensure victory for its second candidate.