Murmu to enjoy a windfall in Maharashtra

Dilip Chaware

The change of guard in Maharashtra will benefit BJP’s Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu handsomely, boosting her prospects still further. The second largest state in the country, Maharashtra has 287 MLAs, 48 Lok Sabha and 19 Rajya Sabha seats, with a vote value tally exceeding 50,000.

Till a week ago, Maharashtra was governed by a coalition of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. Together, their Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was supported by about 150 MLAs under the chief ministership of Uddhav Thackeray. However, a breakaway group from the Sena joined hands with the BJP to form a saffron coalition, which is supported by 165 MLAs. There is one vacancy in the 288-member house. Moreover, some Sena MPs (Lok Sabha) also are expected to vote for Murmu, who will be visiting Mumbai on the eve of the election to muster support for her.

The value of each vote in a Presidential election is calculated under a formula in Article 55(2) of the Constitution. Thus, the value of each MLA vote in Maharashtra is 175 and of each MP vote is 700. In all, the total vote value of Maharashtra is 50,400. However, as there is one vacancy in the house, the value has come down to 50,225.

Till last week, the BJP was expecting a vote value of about 21,000 from Maharashtra since it has 105 of its own MLAs and is supported by 15 others, taking its strength to around 120. But the dramatic developments over the past 15 days have changed the arithmetic, in favour of Murmu, the BJP candidate.

In the two floor tests a few days ago, the saffron alliance led by Sena rebel Eknath Shinde and former chief minister Devendra Fadanvis of the BJP proved that 164 MLAs had supported it. Speaker Rahul Narvekar belongs to the BJP, taking the alliance tally to 165.

Over the past week, Sena Lok Sabha members Rahul Shewale and Bhavana Gawli have urged Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray to make the party support Murmu. It is expected that more Sena MPs are likely to follow suit. In all, Murmu is expected to benefit by about 10,000 vote value. Thus, Murmu will walk down a garden path in Maharashtra.

Dilip Chaware
A veteran journalist, formerly Special Correspondent, The Times of India, Mumbai.



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