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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

I have not been consulted on Assembly Speaker’s post: Prithviraj Chavan

With the Congress high command keeping the name of the candidate under wraps, the names of Prithivaraj Chavan and Sangram Thopte have been doing the rounds for quite a while.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune |
Updated: December 26, 2021 12:03:55 am
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan at his office in Mumbai. (Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

Although his name is doing the rounds as a likely candidate for the Maharashtra Assembly speaker’s post, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday said the party had not discussed the issue with him.

“I know my name is being speculated. But I have no clue about being appointed or not appointed. No one has discussed the issue with me…,” Chavan told The Indian Express when asked whether he would be the next Assembly speaker.

The election for the speaker’s post is likely to be held on Tuesday. On Friday, the state government issued a notification regarding holding the election through voice vote. Till date, the election has been held through a secret ballot.

Though the election is two days away, the Congress high command has not made any announcement about it, triggering speculation about possible candidates. State Congress president Nana Patole said, “The name of the candidate will be announced before the election is held… it will be announced at the appropriate time.”

Patole had earlier this year resigned as the Assembly speaker, after which he was appointed the state party unit president. According to sources in the Congress, Patole is keen on getting a berth in the state cabinet.

With the Congress high command keeping the name of likely candidates under wrap, the names of prominent leaders such as Prithivaraj Chavan and Sangram Thopte have been doing the rounds for some time.

Chavan is considered a frontrunner because of his good equation with MVA alliance partner Shiv Sena. But Chavan’s ties with the NCP, the third partner of the government, has been shaky because, as chief minister during the Congress-NCP regime, he had shot down several NCP proposals, said a Congress leader.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Chavan said the party high command will take the final decision. When asked whether Congress president Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi had discussed the issue with him as he was the senior-most party leader in the state, Chavan relied in the negative.

“I am the senior leader of the party, but nor do I have any idea about who will be the next Assembly speaker, neither has the party discussed or consulted me on the issue,” Chavan said.

“There are only speculations about the speaker’s name. I don’t know whether I will be offered the post or not,” he said.

Asked whether he would accept the post, Chavan said, “Let them first offer me the post…I can’t say yes or no and indulge in speculations.”

Chavan was among the chief architects who had helped form the MVA government after the 2019 Assembly elections.

“Though NCP chief Sharad Pawar had denied the possibility of a tie-up with the Shiv Sena, Chavan was positive about such a tie-up from the day of the state election results. And it is due to his consisent efforts that the MVA came into existence. But after that, he has been sidelined in the party. The party is not even consulting or discussing any key issues concerning the state with him, especially after his name surfaced among the members of G-23,” said a Congress leader.

The G-23 comprises a group of senior Congress leaders who have been demanding sweeping reforms in the party.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar alleged that the speaker’s election was being held without taking the opposition into confidence. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has also demanded that the suspension of 12 party MLAs be revoked before the election is held. The BJP is likely to demand the deputy speaker’s post in case the election for speaker’s post is held unopposed.

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