13 MNS legislators abstained from voting since they did not want to support either candidate

As expected, the former Shiv Sena trade union leader, Kiran Pawaskar, was elected to the Maharashtra State Legislative Council on a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ticket on Monday.

Mr. Pawaskar won with 182 votes over his Shiv Sena rival Rahul Narvekar who got 90 votes. Two votes were invalid, NCP sources said.

The 13 Maharashtra Navnirman Sena legislators abstained from voting since they did not want to support either candidate; and two MLAs, Rajaram Ozre from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Shivajirao Kardile from the Bharatiya Janata Party, did not vote.

Mr. Pawaskar was a Sena MLC before he quit last month, unhappy with the party executive president Uddhav Thackeray's functioning.

Mr. Pawaskar, a former general secretary of the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, was promised a ticket by the NCP when he joined the party along with some supporters from various unions.

Considered asset

Mr. Pawaskar's move to the NCP was considered an asset to the party since he holds sway over 22 unions with 70,000 to 80,000 members.

 The Sena, which has thrived on its airline unions apart from those in the hospitality sector, will lose much ground after the exit of Mr. Pawaskar and others.

For the last two years, he has been sidelined by Sena leaders despite his sway over airline workers. Much to Mr. Pawaskar's dismay, another Sena leader Vinayak Raut was given increased responsibility in the BKS.

‘Not free to decide'

When Mr. Pawaskar joined the NCP, he said that after 27 years as a trade unionist, his style was cramped by party leaders in the Sena and he was not free to take any decisions.

“I could not do anything for my fellow workers,” he added. He said he was drawn to Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's personality, and he had joined the NCP without expecting any position and in the hope that some of the problems affecting workers would be resolved.

New members

Union leaders from the All-India Cabin Crew Association, the All-India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association, the Duty Free Galleria, Mumbai International Airport Private Limited Executive and Staff Association and the Indian Institute of Packaging are among those who joined the NCP along with Mr. Pawaskar.