Updated: July 1, 2021 9:22:30 am
Senior Congress leader Prithiviraj Chavan and three-time Bhor MLA Sangram Thopte have emerged as front-runners for the post of Maharashtra Assembly speaker. The post had fallen vacant after the resignation of Nana Patole in February this year. He was subsequently appointed as the state Congress chief.
Since Patole’s resignation, there has been no clarity on when the election to the assembly speaker’s post will be held. However, the Congress has sought to clear the confusion by announcing that the election will be held during the two-day monsoon session of the state legislature that begins on July 5.
“The election to the speaker’s post will be held in this session itself… We have intimated Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari regarding holding the election on July 6,” said senior Congress leader and state minister Balasaheb Thorat. The Governor has now sent a letter to the state government, asking it to hold the elections, said sources.
Since Patole had held the post earlier, a Congress MLA will replace him. “This is as per the arrangement during the formation of MVA government. The Congress retains the speaker’s post,” said party spokesperson Gopal Tiwari.
While Congress refused to put out names of likely candidates, a Congress leader said though Thopte’s name is being considered, the party is also thinking about giving former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan the post.
When asked whether Chavan was among the frontrunners for the speaker’s post, Tiwari said, “No names have been finalised yet. The party’s central leadership will take the decision. But yes, it is true that an experienced leader who will strike a balance between the three key constituents of MVA is likely to get the nod. Currently, the BJP is making all efforts to bring down the government. The government is also ready to corner some BJP leaders who are facing various charges. To handle this situation, the party may opt for an experienced hand.”
Tiwari said during political crises in states like Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the Assembly speaker had played a decisive role. “Similarly, we will need a strong speaker with enough experience to handle any crisis that may emerge due to the ongoing political one-upmanship,” he said.
When contacted, Chavan refused to comment. “I have no idea whether my name is being considered for the speaker’s post,” he told The Indian Express.
When asked whether he will accept the post if Congress offers it to him, Chavan said, “The issue does not arise as the party leadership has not discussed it with me.” Asked whether Patole had called him up and offered the post, he replied in the negative.
Thopte, a three-time MLA, also said the party had not approached him with any such offer. “But if the party leadership asks me to take up the post, I am ready to obey the party’s directives,” he said.
Besides Chavan and Thopte, the names of at least three other Congress MLAs are being discussed, said party sources.
Meanwhile, NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The election for Assembly speaker’s post will be held but before that, the Governor should take a decision regarding the 12 names recommended by the state government for nomination to the Legislative Council.”
Malik said the decision regarding holding the election will be held after the Covid-19 test reports of MLAs are received. “We are confident that we will get more numbers during the election for the speaker’s post than the number which the government won while proving its majority,” he said.
The NCP leader said the government has written a letter to the deputy speaker of the Legislative Assembly, suggesting holding the election to the speaker’s post. “There is unanimity among all the three parties. Even if it is a two-day session, we are hopeful that the election can be held in this session itself,” he said.
Malik said if the Governor takes call on the nomination of 12 names recommended by the government for the Legislative Council, these MLCs will get an opportunity to work for the people. “We request the Governor to take an early call on the pending issue..,” he said.
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