Congress nominee Nana Patole Sunday was elected unopposed as the Maharashtra Speaker after the BJP withdrew from the race. The BJP had named Murad MLA Kisan Kathore as its nominee.
BJP legislature party leader Devendra Fadnavis informed the Assembly: “We had nominated Kisan Kathore for the post of assembly speaker, but in all-party meeting, other parties requested us&its has been a tradition that speaker is appointed unopposed, so we accepted the request and withdrew our candidate’s name.”
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who escorted Patole to the Speaker’s chair, said: “Nana Patole has also come from a farmer family & I am very confident that he will give justice to everyone.”
And Fadnavis was named Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. Speaker Patole said that the BJP is being accorded the status of opposition party in the Assembly and Fadnavis would be the new Leader of Opposition. CM Uddhav Thackeray and some ministers greeted Fadnavis, former CM, after Patole made the announcement.
Patole was twice elected from Sakoli on a Congress ticket in 1999 and 2004 Assembly elections. In 2009, he contested the Lok Sabha elections as an Independent and lost to NCP’s Praful Patel. In 2014, Patole contested the Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket and defeated Patel by 1.49 lakh votes. However, he quit the BJP after he criticised the party both at the central and state levels. He was the first BJP MP who publicly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and returned to Congress. Earlier this year, he fought the Lok Sabha polls against BJP’s Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur and lost. In the state polls, he defeated BJP’s Parinay Phuke, a close aide of former CM Devendra Fadnavis.
Patole’s nomination as the Speaker candidate has cleared the path for the NCP to take over the post of the deputy chief minister in the Sena-led government. The Congress had been keen that it too should be allotted the deputy CM’s post and hesitant in taking over the Speaker’s position. With Patole’s nomination, NCP’s path towards installing its own nominee as the deputy CM has increased, with party leaders Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar being the frontrunners for the post.
On Saturday, as many as 169 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly voted in favour of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance, while the BJP’s 105 MLAs staged a walkout.