Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, on Sunday, put to rest speculations on Shiv Sena staking claim for the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly speaker’s post and Congress surrendering its claim to gain a ministry from the Shiv Sena’s quota. Pawar said the post will remain with Congress as per the agreement reached by the three ruling parties while forming the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state. The post has been lying vacant since February, when the incumbent Nana Patole stepped down and took over as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president.
“All the three parties have decided that the new speaker will be from Congress only. We will all support whatever it decides," said Pawar. His statement came days after Shiv Sena Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Bhaskar Jadhav, who was the presiding officer in the recently concluded monsoon session when 12 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators were suspended for allegedly mishandling him and their unruly behaviour, had said that he was ready to accept the speaker’s post. He, however, added that Shiv Sena should not sacrifice the Forest Ministry in its quota and hand it over to the Congress.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat made it amply clear that the speaker's post will remain with the party. His statement came days after the election to the speaker’s post could not take place during the monsoon session. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in his reply to Governor BS Koshyari, had said that there was no violation of the constitutional provision and there was no time-frame to hold the speaker's election.
In his response to the state Congress chief Nana Patole’s repeated announcements on going solo in the assembly elections, Pawar said all the parties have the right to expand and grow. “If Congress has taken a stand, there is nothing wrong with it. We run the government together, which means we don't run the party together. Every party works differently. It is important if the government is united or not,” he noted.
Pawar's statement came after Patole was recently snubbed by party leaders and he was told that the high command will take a decision on fighting the next assembly elections independently.