"Congress has 82 MLAs...Only three nominees could win," state unit general secretary Sanjay Dutt said today, refuting speculation that there was an understanding between Congress and Shiv Sena.
Because of Congress's decision to field three candidates, Sena could get elected an additional MLC. Among the outgoing MLCs (whose term is expiring) there is only one Sena member.
Eleven candidates, including three of Congress, are set to get elected unopposed, as yesterday was the last day of filing nominations for as many seats. These MLCs are elected by MLAs.
Dutt said though 16 independent MLAs also support Congress, they are not covered by Anti-Defection law (and hence could not be compelled to vote for a particular party).
Congress was keen to prevent horse-trading and cross- voting, Dutt said, adding Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan did not succumb to the pressure of fielding a fourth candidate.
Congress had nominated Dutt, state unit president Manikrao Thakre and Sharad Ranpise.