Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Nana Patole, who is currently on his north Maharashtra tour, has been called by the party high command to discuss the party candidate for the post of the state assembly speaker. Tribal Development Minister KC Padvi and party legislator Sangram Thopte are the frontrunners. In addition, the names of former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Energy Minister Nitin Raut are also doing the rounds within the Congress party.
The election is expected to take place during the two-day monsoon session slated for July 5 and July 6. The election has been necessitated following Patole’s resignation as the speaker early this year. Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirval has been holding an additional charge.
Congress’ allies Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have already given their nod to hold the speaker's election. The Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress along with independents have 169 legislators. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 106 legislators with support of at least 10 to 14 independents. The MVA partners have hinted that the Congress nominee will comfortably win the election, as they have sufficient numbers.
However, MVA partners have reached out to the BJP for an unopposed election to the speaker’s post. So far, there has been no deal between the ruling and opposition parties.
Meanwhile, Patole, who has been hogging headlines for his repeated announcements on Congress going solo in the upcoming assembly elections in the state, on Thursday, said former members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) and BJP leaders are keen to join the Congress. The decision to include them in the party fold will be taken soon. He alleged that many Congress leaders were forced to join BJP by enforcing pressure through central investigating agencies, like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED). However, he noted that they were never disassociated from the Congress ideology and its principles.