Ten in fray for nine Legislative Council seats

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Mumbai, Mar 19 (UNI) Ten candidates have remained in the fray for the nine Maharashtra Legislative Council seats in the biennial elections with the last day for withdrawal of nominations drawing to a close today.

The nine MLCs will be elected by the 288 members of the Legislative Assembly on March 26.

The Congress has fielded three candidates -- Shivajirao Deshmukh, Sudhakar Gangane and Jaiprakash Chhajed, while the NCP has also fielded as many candidates -- Rana Jagjitsingh Patil, Hemant Takle and Sanjay Patil.

The BJP and Shiv Sena have fielded two candidates each. Leader of the Opposition Pandurang Phundkar and Vinod Tawade are the BJP candidates while Shiv Sena has fielded Dr Neelam Gorhe and Kiran Pawaskar.

The voting quota for each candidate to get elected is 29. In the 288-member Legislative Assembly, the Congress has a strength of 75, NCP - 71, Shiv Sena - 56, BJP - 54, JSP - 4, PWP - 2, CPI(M) - 3, RPI(A) - 1, BRP-Bahujan Mahasangh - 1, ABS - 1, SBP - 1 and Independents - 19.

With 29 votes required to elect the candidates, the Congress and the NCP will require the support of Independents and others to elect their third candidate. BJP, too, would require outside support to ensure victory for both its candidates.

The Shiv Sena is faced with a dilemma. Sena MLA Bala Nandgaonkar has openly been supporting MNS chief Raj Thackeray whose proximity with Revenue Minister Narayan Rane is known. Mr Rane, according to sources, has the ability to sway at least five Sena legislators. The Sena may, therefore, find it difficult to get its second candidate elected. In the 2006 biennial Legislative Council elections also, the Sena's second candidate had lost.

UNI JM MAZ KD KN1622

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