Maharashtra's ruling alliance suffered a massive setback today with the BJP winning a third seat in the state in straight fight against the Shiv Sena. With this, the state's numbers in the six Rajya Sabha seats in the state are split down the middle with the BJP and the alliance winning three seats each -- an outcome that is expected to influence the coming MLC and civic elections in the state.
The BJP's Dhananjay Mahadik beat Sena's Sanjay Pawar on the sixth seat, the results of which came close to dawn on Saturday. The results showed an unexpected 10 votes in favour of the BJP. A candidate needed 41 votes for victory.
The other winners were the BJP's Piyush Goyal and Anil Bonde, Congress's Imran Pratapgarhi, NCP's Praful Patel and Sena's Sanjay Raut.Both Piyush Goyal and Anil Bonde got 48 votes. An MLA needed 41 votes to win.
"Elections are contested not just for the fight, but the victory. Jai Maharashtra," tweeted the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, whose refusal to have consensus candidates for the Rajya Sabha led to elections in the state after 23 years.
"Dhananjay Mahadik got more votes than Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut and defeated Shiv Sena's Sanjay Pawar... Tomorrow it will be said that one vote has been cancelled by the Election Commission. Had he (Sanjay Pawar) got that vote, we would have won. Even if Nawab Malik had come, we would have won," Mr Fadnavis told reporters.
The ruling coalition had suffered a setback initially as arrested minister Nawab Malik and former minister Anil Deshmukh were not allowed bail by the court for the voting.
The counting of votes in the opposition-ruled state started after an eight-hour delay amid tit-for-tat complaints of cross voting and rules violation by the BJP and the ruling alliance.
Earlier, both BJP and the Shiv Sena met the Election Commission, alleging cross voting and seeking disqualification of votes.
The BJP questioned the validity of ballots cast by three MLAs of the ruling alliance. The Maha Vikas Aghadi, too, sought to invalidate two votes, one by a BJP MLA and another by an independent.
Objections were raised against the votes cast by the NCP's Jitendra Awhad, the Congress' Yashomati Thakur and Shiv Sena's Suhas Kande as well as against the BJP's Sudhir Mungantiwar and Independent MLA Ravi Rana. Except Mr Kande's, all other votes were ruled to be valid.
Kande did not show his ballot to anyone else but still his vote has been invalidated, NCP's election in-charge Jayant Patil was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.