Ahead of MLC polls, ruling MLAs are receiving phone calls in name of Central agencies, alleges Maharashtra Congress chief

In a frontal attack on the BJP-led Union government two days ahead of the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections, state Congress chief Nana Patole on Saturday alleged that phone calls were being made to ruling MLAs who are being told that Central agencies have all information about them. The election for 10 seats in the state Legislative Council will be held on June 20 for which BJP and tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) are engaged in a battle of wits and trying to woo Independents and small parties.

Exuding confidence, Patole said all six candidates of MVA will emerge victorious as the numbers are stacked in favour of the MVA.

He also said Congress will force the central government to withdraw the ‘Agnipath’ scheme for recruitment in the armed forces as the youth are opposing it.

“The BJP-led government is abusing the Central machinery to harass the Opposition across the country. These agencies are being misused to suppress the voice of opposition parties and intimidate them. Direct phone calls are being made to MLAs (in Maharashtra). The callers are telling the MLAs that they (agencies) had all the information about them. We will bring this out at an appropriate time,” Patole told reporters.

He alleged that the BJP-led Centre is using the CBI and the ED as a “weapon” which is dangerous for democracy.

“The BJP has crossed all the limits for its greed for power. Rumours are being spread that there is a breakdown in the (Maha Vikas Aghadi) alliance. Conversely, the BJP is witnessing a breakdown,” the Congress leader claimed.

He accused the BJP of creating obstacles in the Legislative Council elections.

“However, as per our calculation, the numbers are on the side of MVA. The Congress needs 12 votes to get its second nominee elected while the BJP needs 22 votes to ensure the victory of its fifth candidate. Despite this, the BJP is boasting of victory based on money and Central investigative agencies, but these tactics will not work this time. MVA has enough numbers and all its six candidates will win the Legislative Council elections,” he added.

A total of 11 candidates are in the fray for the June 20 elections to be held for 10 seats, with the MVA allies – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – each fielding two candidates. The BJP has nominated five candidates.

The BJP is trying to replicate it success in the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls in the Legislative Council polls for which the role of Independents and small parties is going to be crucial.

In a setback to the MVA, BJP’s third nominee Dhananjay Mahadik had defeated Sena’s second nominee Sanjay Pawar in the RS polls.

Patole said Congress will force the central government to withdraw the ‘Agnipath’ scheme for recruitment in the armed forces after a delegation of trainers and aspirants of a coaching academy called on him at his residence and demanded the cancellation of the scheme.

“Youngsters across the country have taken to the streets to protest against the Agnipath scheme launched by the Central government for recruitment in armed forces. This type of military recruitment will ruin the future of the youth. The youth are opposed to this recruitment process and are staging protests. I appeal to them to refrain from violence,” he said.

Patole added that Congress is with the youth of the country and will not let injustice mete out to them.

MLAs form the electoral college for the MLC elections.

The quota for first preference votes per candidate to win the MLC polls is 26.

The effective strength of the 288-member Maharashtra House is reduced to 285 following the death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, while two NCP MLAs -Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh – are currently in jail and are not allowed to vote by the high court.

Smaller parties and Independents account for 25 MLAs.

The BJP has 106 MLAs, Shiv Sena 55, Congress 44 and NCP 52.

Given its strength in the Assembly, the BJP can get four of the five candidates elected, the Sena and the NCP two each, and the Congress one.

In a bid to get the numbers right, the contesting parties are trying to win over Independents and small players. PTI MR NSK NSK

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