MUMBAI: Senior Congress leader and former state revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat was named as the Congress legislative party (CLP) leader in the Maharashtra assembly by the party high command on Friday.
Thorat and former leader of opposition in the state Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil are known arch rivals in the district of Ahmednagar, which is why Thorat was expected to naturally succeed him as Leader of Opposition to balance the political dynamics of the district and the Western Maharashtra region. The region used to be the bastion of the party, but since the past two elections, it has not won a single Lok Sabha seat there.
Vikhe Patil had quit the CLP and the party after his Sujay had joined the BJP and won from the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat.
A soft-spoken gentleman, Thorat hails from the leftist school of thought and is known to be close to the NCP chief Sharad Pawar. His appointment is aimed at strengthening the Congress' attack against the Devendra Fadnavis government over issues ranging from farm crisis to corruption.
Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the deputy leader Vijay Vadettiwar were some of the contenders for the post of CLP leader.
In a letter written to AICC General Secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge and MPCC president Ashok Chavan, party general secretary K C Venugopal said that the party has accepted the proposal regarding appointments of MLAs and MLCs at various positions in the legislature party.
According to the letter, party MLA Vijay Wadettiwar has been appointed as the leader of the lower house while Mohammad Arif Naseem Khan has been appointed as the deputy leader of the house.
In the upper house of Maharashtra legislature, the party has appointed senior legislator Sharad Ranpise as the leader, while Adv Ramhari Rupanvar has been appointed as his deputy.
Bhai aka Ashok Jagtap has been appointed as the party whip in the upper house, while six others including chief whip Basavraj Patil have been appointed as party whips in the lower house of the legislature.
The monsoon session of the state assembly is scheduled to start on June 17.