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Fadnavis performed 'miracle' of weaning away independent MLAs from rival camps: Pawar

Fadnavis performed miracle of weaning away independent MLAs from rival camps: Pawar
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Pune/Mumbai (PTI): In the wake of the BJP winning all three Rajya Sabha seats it contested in Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said saffron party leader Devendra Fadnavis succeeded in working the "miracle" of weaning away independent MLAs from rival camps using "different means".

He also said that there was nothing shocking in the election results, in which a Shiv Sena candidate lost.

Talking to reporters in Pune, Pawar said the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress made a courageous attempt to win the sixth seat despite falling short of a few numbers.

"I am not shocked to see the results. The MVA candidates received votes in proportion to the number of MLAs. However, one has to accept the miracle in which BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis succeeded in weaning away independent MLAs and also those from smaller parties, who would have otherwise supported the MVA. He was successful in bringing people (independent MLAs) close to him by using different means," Pawar told reporters in Pune.

"The MVA made a courageous attempt to win the sixth seat despite falling short or few numbers. The sixth seat was a risk for the MVA, but (Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president) Uddhav Thackeray took the risk. In politics, one has to take risks," he added.

When asked whether the outcome of the Rajya Sabha elections would affect the stability of the MVA government in the state, Pawar replied in the negative.

"See the numbers. The required majority to run a government has not been impacted," the former Union minister said, adding that there was no threat to the MVA dispensation.

The BJP had fielded three candidates out of the total six Rajya Sabha seats that went to the polls on Friday.

BJP candidates - Union minister Piyush Goyal, former state minister Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik - won the fiercely-fought elections, while Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut, NCP's Praful Patel and Congress' Imran Pratapgarhi also came out victorious. The contest was for the sixth seat - between BJP's Mahadik and Sena's Pawar, who lost. Mahadik and Pawar hail from Kolhapur in western Maharashtra.

Pawar said the quota for first preference vote for Patel (NCP), Pratapgarhi (Congress) and Raut (Sena) was intact.

"In fact, Praful Patel received an extra vote from a BJP-backed independent MLA, who voted for Patel after informing me. The independent has worked with me earlier. That extra vote was from the quota of our opponent (BJP), which landed in NCP's kitty," the veteran politician said.

"Not a single vote of the NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress was impacted. Even a single vote from BJP was impacted. All the fun happened in the votes of independent MLAs," he added.

The counting for election to the six Rajya Sabha seats in the state was held up for several hours as the BJP questioned the validity of ballots cast by three MVA MLAs, alleging that rules were violated. The MVA too sought to invalidate two votes, one by a BJP MLA and another by an Independent. The counting finally began at 1 pm on Saturday.

Talking about it, Pawar alleged that the objection raised by BJP over three MLAs' votes was a pat of "foul play".

"The voter is supposed to show the vote to the leadership. They have the right to show the vote. So if someone shows the vote to Congress president Nana Patole or NCP state unit chief Jayant Patil, there is no illegality in that," he said.

Asked about Shiv Sena MLA Suhas Kande's vote being declared invalid, he said that he does not know anything about it.

Replying to a question whether the MVA failed to show the political maturity in the RS elections, Pawar said one has to take risks in politics and that risk was taken by Shiv Sena chief and Uddhav Thackeray.

When asked about the upcoming presidential elections, he said that the issue was not discussed yet. "I am going to Delhi tomorrow and we will sit together and discuss it as everybody wants to discuss it together," he said.

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