Despite numbers stacked in its favour, the BJP is taking no chances in ensuring a comfortable victory for the party nominee Prasad Lad in tomorrow's Legislative Council bypoll against Congress' Dileep Mane. Both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress today held separate briefing sessions for their respective MLAs and explained to them the procedure of casting the secret preferential ballot and marking the first and second choice of candidates in the preferential order. In order to ensure that all its 122 MLAs cast their vote within the stipulated time between 9.00 am and 4.00 pm, the BJP has instructed all its MLAs to first sign their attendance muster at the party office before going to cast their vote in the Central Hall of the Vidhan Bhavan. "After casting their vote, the BJP MLAs will once again have to go back to the party office and again sign the muster as a confirmation that they have indeed cast their ballot," state BJP legislature party chief whip Raj Purohit said. He claimed that Sena-BJP candidate will secure 203 votes. With the Sena supporting Lad, the latter is assured of 185 votes, that includes 122 of the BJP and 63 of the Sena. The BJP also has the backing of another 16 legislators including Independents and small allies. Earlier in the evening, the Congress held a gathering for its 42 MLAs at the Y B Chavan Center near Mantralaya, whereas the BJP leadership called its MLAs for a meeting at the Taj Mahal Hotel over dinner.
The Sena MLAs too joined in, since the party leadership has declared its support to the candidature of Lad. The Congress and the NCP has combined 83 votes. The winning candidate needs to secure a quota of 145 votes. The result of the by-poll will be declared by tomorrow evening. The electoral college (voters) for this constituency comprises 288 MLAs of the legislative assembly. The current partywise strength in the 78-member Legislative Council is: NCP 23, Congress 19, BJP 17, Sena 9, JD-U 1, PWP-I 1, PRP 1, Independents 6 and vacant 1. In the Lower House, BJP has 122 MLAs, Sena 63, Congress 42, NCP 41, PWP (I) 3, BVA 3, MIM 2, MNS 1, Samajwadi Party 1, BBM 1, CPI(M) 1, RSP 1, Independents 7 and Nominated 1 (Vacant). The bypoll was necessitated following resignation of former Congress leader Narayan Rane whose Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha is a constituent of the NDA. Rane is likely to be accommodated as a Cabinet minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government.
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