MUMBAI: Congress leader Nana Patole was elected on Sunday as the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker unopposed after the BJP withdrew its nomination for the post. This comes a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government proved its majority in the floor test with the support of 169 MLAs.
Patole's election took place in a special assembly session that was called by Pro-Tem Speaker Dilip Walse Patil of all party leaders on Sunday to elect the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker. Just before the session, BJP state chief Chandrakant Patil said that the decision to withdraw candidature for the post of the assembly Speaker was taken at an internal party meeting wherein incumbent BJP Maharashtra MLAs urged that the tradition of electing the Assembly Speaker unopposed should be upheld.
"To keep the dignity of the Vidhan Sabha intact, we have decided to withdraw the name of Kisan Kathore from the election so that the assembly Speaker be elected unopposed," Patil added.
Following his election, Patole officially took charge as the assembly Speaker as CM Uddhav Thackeray and former CM Devendra Fadnavis extended greetings to the newly-elected Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha.
Patole, who later became a Congress MLA from Amravati district's Sukali in Maharashtra, was a former BJP MLA who was the first one to rebel against the party during Prime Minister Modi's first term between 2014 to 2019.
The newly-elected Assembly Speaker had joined the BJP after quitting the NCP just ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and contested successfully against NCP leader Praful Patel from Bhandar-Gondia constituency in Maharashtra. The leader was an open critic of the Modi government and later rebelled against the saffron party to join Congress, and contested against Union minister Nitin Gadkari from the Nagpur seat. However, this time he lost to the BJP stalwart.
BJP had picked its fourth time MLA Kisan Kathore as its candidate to contest the election for Maharashtra Assembly Speaker against Patole. Kathore was elected the Thane Zilla Parishad president in 2002. He became Thane MLA on NCP ticket in 2004. He won in 2009, 2014 and 2019 assembly elections. He contested the last two elections on BJP ticket.
On Saturday, the Assembly witnessed much drama as BJP MLAs staged a walkout with former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis claiming that never in the history of the state Assembly, a trust vote was conducted without electing a Speaker. "What was the fear this time?" Fadnavis said, moments before the BJP staged a walkout.
Fadnavis said that the oath-taking ceremony of Thackeray and the other six ministers in Shivaji park was not in line with the rules. "Someone took Babasaheb Thackeray's name, someone took names of Sonia ji and Pawar Saheb. The oath was not taken as per the given format," Fadnavis said.
"You feel stung when we took names of Chhatrapati Shivaji. I will take the name again and again. Those who don't take the names of their parents have no right to live," Uddhav had said, in response to Fadnavis's allegations.