Mumbai: Ramraje Nimbalkar, senior Nationalist Congress Party leader, was declared elected unopposed as the new chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council here on Friday.
The development followed a surprise decision by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena to "boycott" the election earlier today.
BJP's Eknath Khadse and Sena's Ramdas Kadam, both senior ministers in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's cabinet, jointly made the announcement of their party's decision, paving the way for Nimbalkar's unopposed election to the august post.
"We stand united on this... there is no question of supporting either the Congress of Nationalist Congress Party... hence we have decided to boycott the election," Khadse told media persons near the state legislature.
The chairman's election was necessitated after council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh in an unprecedented no-confidence motion was voted out of the office. The veteran Congress leader held the august post in the upper house for 11 years.
The decision smoothened the way for Ramraje Nimbalkar, given the arithmetic in the 78-member house.
The NCP enjoys a brute strength of 28, followed by the Congress (21), BJP (12), Shiv Sena (seven), and the rest belonging to other parties.
On March 19, the Shiv Sena had attempted to corner ally BJP by fielding Neelam Gorhe for the post in what would have become a four-cornered contest comprising Gorhe, NCP's Nimbalkar, Congress' Sharad Ranpise and an Independent from Amravati teachers' constituency, Shrikant Deshpande.
In the March 16 voting on the no-confidence motion against Deshmukh, the opposition NCP was virtually "helped" by the BJP to defeat the Congress amidst charges that the BJP and NCP had already arrived at an "understanding" over the issue.
Nimbalkar, hailing from the erstwhile royal family of Phaltan in Satara district that had close relations with the Chhatrapati Shivaji clan, is considered a protege of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
Chief Minister Fadnavis and other leaders hailed Nimbalkar's election and paid glowing tributes to his long experience as a legislator and minister.