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.
The Speaker’s election will be held on Sunday, a day after the ruling alliance cleared the floor test. As many as 169 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly voted in its favour, while the BJP’s 105 MLAs staged a walkout on Saturday. While Patole is the MLA from Sakoli in Bhandara-Gondia, Kathore had been elected from Murbad in Thane.
“We have fielded Kisan Kathore as our candidate for the Speaker’s post. We would like to put up a fight on the floor of the House on Sunday,” state BJP president Chandrakant Patil said.
Unlike the trust vote, the Speaker’s election will be conducted through a secret ballot and not telecast live. Since it is a secret ballot, BJP is hoping it would be able to make some dent in the ruling coalition’s numbers. However, state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said there would be no surprises on Sunday. “Our support base will remain intact. We have 169 MLAs. We will win the Speaker’s poll,” he said.
In 1999, Patole, who represents Kunbhi community (OBC), started his political journey as a Congress candidate contesting the Bhandara Zilla Parishad polls. He went on to contest on a Congress ticket in 1999 and 2004 state polls and was elected from Sakoli both times.
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. “They (BJP) have the right in democracy (to field a candidate). But it has been a tradition in Maharashtra that Speaker is elected unopposed. We hope that tradition continues,” Patole said.
Kathore had began his political career as Thane Zilla Parishad president in 2002. In 2004, he was elected as MLA on a NCP ticket from Ambednath. In successive Assembly elections, held in 2009, 2014 and 2019, Kathore won from Murbad. He contested 2014 and 2019 elections on a BJP ticket.