9 Legislative Council members to be elected on March 26

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Mumbai, Feb 26 (UNI) The 288 members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly will elect nine Legislative Council members in the biennial elections on March 26.

The election notification is scheduled to be issued on March 8. The last day for filing nominations is March 15, scrutiny will take place on March 17 while the last day for withdrawal is March 19.

The party-wise break-up in the state Legislative Assembly is as follows: Congress (75), NCP (71), Shiv Sena (56), BJP (54), Jan Surajya Party (4), CPI-M (3), Swatantra Bharat Party (1), Akhil Bharatiya Sena (1), Republican Party of India (1), PWP (2), BRP Bahujan Mahasangh (1) and independents (19).

The biennial elections are being held as nine Council members are retiring. They are Council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh, Sudhakar Gangane and Sharad Ranpise (Congress), Minister of State for Protocol Rana Jagjitsingh Patil and Sadashiv Pol (NCP), Madhukar Sarpotdar and Dr Neelam Gorhe (Shiv Sena) and Leader of the Opposition Pandurang Phundkar (BJP) and state BJP general secretary Vinod Tawade.

A quota of 29 votes is required to elect a Council member. The elections will be held through secret ballot. Political observers feel that because of this, horse trading cannot be ruled out.

Present statistics of the House indicate that the four parties -- Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and BJP -- are sure to secure two seats each. But, there is likely to be a keen tussle between the Congress and the NCP for the ninth seat.

The BJP is expected to renominate both Mr Phundkar and Mr Tawade, according to party sources.

Shiv Sena may not renominate party spokesperson and the lone female member in the Upper House -- Dr Neelam Gorhe. Mr Sarpotdar, too, may not be renominated, according to party sources.

As regards NCP, the party may renominate Rana Jagjitsinh Patil, son of Dr Padamsinh Patil -- a former minister and close confidante of Mr Pawar. There are no indications about the NCP's second candidate.

Congress, on the other hand, is likely to renominate Shivajirao Deshmukh. The party is, however, to reach a decision on its three nominees.

UNI JM MAZ GL ND1812

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