Mumbai: Ahead of the ensuing budget session of the legislature, Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Nana Patole on Thursday resigned, following the Congress high command’s directive. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar are reportedly annoyed with Patole’s move, observing that the time was not right, given that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government has weathered many a BJP deadline for its collapse. With Patole’s resignation, now, there is fresh clamour for the Speaker’s post and this time, apart from the Congress, the Shiv Sena and NCP names too are expected to stake their claims.
Congress legislators Sangram Thopte, Suresh Warpudkar and Amin Patel are the frontrunners for the Speaker’s post. However, the Congress will not be able to unilaterally decide as the process entails hard bargaining with its coalition partners.
The MVA is confident of winning the Speaker’s post, given its strength in numbers. Patole claimed that ruling MVA has a strength of 170, sufficient to outsmart the BJP for the Speaker's election.
Patole, who is from Vidarbha and belongs to the politically dominant OBC Kunbi community, has stepped down, as the Congress party is set to appoint him the president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, replacing the incumbent Balasaheb Thorat. Before tendering his resignation to deputy speaker Narhari Zirval, Patole along with Thorat and Public Works Minister Ashok Chavan met Thackeray and DCM Ajit Pawar and briefed them about the high command’s decision asking Patole to step down.
The architect of the MVA government and NCP chief Sharad Pawar admitted that the Congress party had informed him about Patole’s resignation. He further stated that Patole’s resignation was because of the Congress’s internal issues. ‘‘However, now the Speaker’s post is open to three parties,’’ he noted.
In 2017, Patole was one of the first sitting BJP Lok Sabha MPs to quit the party, citing unhappiness with PM Narendra Modi's style of functioning. While he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election on a Congress ticket to Nitin Gadkari, he got elected to the Maharashtra assembly from Sakoli in Bhandara district.
Congress party insiders told The Free Press Journal, ‘‘The high command had received complaints about Patole’s style of functioning, especially his time-and-again directives time to the department secretaries. On the other hand, Patole has been picked up for the post of state party chief, as he is from OBC and the party’s erstwhile bastion, Vidarbha. A formal announcement is expected in a day or two.’’