Mumbai, Jan 30 (PTI) The Konkan teachers constituency recorded the highest voter turnout at 91.02 per cent, while the Nashik division graduates seat logged the lowest polling at 49.28 per cent as elections to five seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council concluded on Monday, a key electoral contest in the state after the Eknath Shinde government assumed office in June.
The contest for biennial elections to the Upper House of the state legislature was primarily between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena (Balasaheb) combine and candidates backed by the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) comprising the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The 6-year term of five Council members - three from teachers and two from graduates constituencies - is expiring on February 7 and polling was held to fill up the upcoming vacancies. Counting of votes will be held on February 2.
Teachers and graduates fulfilling certain criteria and enrolled as voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in these elections.
The Nashik division graduates constituency recorded 49.28 per cent polling, while the Amravati division graduates seat saw a voter turnout of 49.67 per cent, Shrikant Deshpande, Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra, said.
The teachers constituencies of Aurangabad, Nagpur and Konkan divisions recorded 86 per cent, 86.23 per cent and 91.02 per cent voting, respectively, Deshpande added.
All eyes were on the Nashik division graduates seat, where the Congress saw a rebellion in its ranks in run-up to the polls. Three-time MLC Sudhir Tambe was the official Congress candidate from the seat, but he did not file his nomination papers. As he opted out of the race, his son Satyajeet Tambe entered the fray as an independent. The Congress later suspended both of them.
After casting his vote, Satyajeet Tambe claimed his victory was a forgone conclusion and what remains to be seen is the margin of win.
Differences had cropped up in the MVA over the polls. Earlier this month, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said the MLC polls have clearly shown confusion in the Opposition bloc. Later, MVA leaders sat together and ironed out differences.
The MVA has declared support to Shubhangi Patil (independent) in the Nashik graduates constituency, Balaram Patil (independent) in the Konkan teachers seat, Vikram Kale (NCP) in the Aurangabad teachers segment, Sudhakar Adbale (independent) in the Nagpur teachers constituency and Dhiraj Lingade (Congress) in the Amravati graduates seat.
The BJP has fielded Ranjit Patil from the Amravati graduates' seat and Nagorao Ganar, Dyaneshwar Mhatre and Kiran Patil from Nagpur, Konkan and Aurangabad teachers constituencies, respectively.
In the Nashik division graduates constituency, 1,29,456 out of 2,62,678 eligible voters exercised their franchise. The voting was peaceful at 338 polling stations in the division, said Assistant Returning Officer Ramesh Kale.
The voting percentage in Nashik district was 45.85 per cent, while it was 50.40 per cent in Ahmednagar district, 50.50 per cent in Dhule district, 51.44 per cent in Jalgaon district and 49.61 per cent in Nandurbar district. All districts are part of the Nashik division.
In the Aurangabad teachers constituency, Osmanabad recorded the highest voting percentage at 92.38 per cent, followed by Hingoli at 91.27 per cent, an official said. On this seat, the main contest was between MVA-backed candidate and sitting MLC Vikram Kale and BJP's Kiran Patil.
In some places, voters complained they had to wait in queues for hours due to fewer number of polling centres in Latur city. PTI PR COR AW GK NSK RSY RSY