The Congress party in Maharashtra is facing challenges in the upcoming state Legislative Council election for five seats from the graduate and teacher constituencies, set to take place on January 30. The polls will be held in Nashik and Amravati division for two seats from the graduate constituencies, while Nagpur, Aurangabad and Konkan division will see elections for three seats from the teacher constituencies.
In a blow to the Congress, its current candidate from the Nashik graduate seat, Sudhir Tambe, has withdrawn from the election at the last minute and his son, Satyajeet Tambe, has filed as an Independent candidate. The BJP’s decision not to field a candidate in the Nashik race is seen as an attempt to ensure Satyajeet’s victory. The BJP’s plan to take the seat from the Congress in Nashik was led by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, leaving the Congress party in a difficult position.
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee’s president, Nana Patole, has vowed to disrupt the BJP’s plan by denying support from the Opposition alliance, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), to Tambe’s son. Instead, the Congress has decided to support ex-BJP leader Shubhangi Patil, who is also running as an Independent from the Nashik graduate constituency, and is likely to receive the backing of the MVA.
The Congress party is facing challenges not only from the BJP in the Council polls, but also from its own allies, the Shiv Sena and the NCP. The Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray, and the NCP, led by Sharad Pawar, have caused a rift by fielding a candidate for the Nagpur teacher seat without consulting the Congress. The Congress claims that this seat has traditionally belonged to them.
In the Amravati graduate seat, the competition is between the BJP’s Ranjit Patil and the Congress’s Dheeraj Lingade. In the Aurangabad division’s teacher constituency, the incumbent NCP candidate Vikram Kale will face off against the BJP’s nominee Kiran Patil, a former Congress leader. In the Konkan division’s teacher constituency, the BJP’s Dnyaneshwar Mhatre will compete against the sitting MLC Balaram Patil of the Peasant and Workers Party, who has the support of the Congress, NCP, and Shiv Sena.
These elections are being held as the tenure of the current candidates, including Sudhir Tambe (Nashik), Ranjit Patil (Amravati), Vikram Kale (Aurangabad), Nagor Ganar (Nagpur), and Balaram Patil (Konkan), has come to an end.
The Opposition camp has accused the BJP of bringing its political tactics and strategies into the Legislative Council polls, even for the graduate and teacher constituencies, which the MVA claims did not exist previously. The NCP’s state chief, Jayant Patil, expressed his disappointment, stating that in past elections, the concept of winning a seat by any means necessary, which has become the BJP’s approach, did not exist.
The BJP, however, defended its aggressive strategy, which the MVA referred to as “tod-phod politics” (politics of breaking rival outfits). The state BJP chief, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, stated that they take every election seriously with the goal of victory, but they are not doing anything unethical.
He added that if Congress cannot keep its own house in order, it should blame itself, not the BJP. In June 2022, the BJP had won five out of the ten Council seats that went to polls. Even then, it was Congress that suffered a setback as its Dalit candidate, Chandrakant Handore, lost his seat.
In the 78-member Council, the BJP is currently the largest party with 24 seats.