MUMBAI: In the special session of the Maharashtra legislature on Sunday, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was named as the Leader of Opposition, while Congress leader Nana Patole was elected unopposed as the Speaker. The session ended with Governor BS Koshyari stating that the new Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government would be focused on reducing unemployment for which a law assuring 80% employment to locals would be enacted.
Koshyari made the announcement while addressing the joint sitting of the state legislature at Vidhan Bhawan in which he laid out the new government’s broader agenda for the coming years.
First thing in the morning, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil announced that the BJP nominee for the speaker’s post, Kisan Kathore would withdraw from the contest. This cleared the way for Patole, 57. “It is poetic justice that those who wanted non-existence of the opposition will now have to work as an effective opposition,” Patole said.
For Fadnavis, 49, this is his fifth term as an MLA, while it is the fourth one for Patole.Most of the leaders hailed Patole as the ‘son of the soil’ who feels for farmers while taking potshots at Fadnavis over his impassioned pre-poll “Me punha yein” (I will return) assertion.
While NCP minister Jayant Patil appreciated the “spirit of understanding” shown by the BJP in withdrawing its candidate and ensuring that Patole was elected unopposed, CM Uddhav Thackery said he won’t call Fadnavis an ‘opposition leader’, but a ‘responsible leader’. “If you would have been good to us then, all this (BJP-Shiv Sena split) would have not happened... I have learnt a lot of things from Fadvanis and I will always be friends with him,” he said.
While targeting Fadnavis, Patil said, “He (Fadnavis) said he would return, but didn’t say where he will sit (in the House). Now he has returned and is occupying this top post (of Leader of Opposition) which is of the same level as CM post.”
Responding to the barbs, Fadnavis said he forgot to announce a time table about his return (as CM).