MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has reportedly made the Congress' demand for Leader of Opposition status to party MLA Vijay Wadettiwar 'conditional'.
Fadnavis Monday made it clear to Opposition leaders that Wadettiwar, who is the group leader of the Congress in the Lower House, will get the LoP status only if Legislative Council chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar (NCP) announces election to the post of deputy chairman.
The post has been lying vacant since the last one year after the term of Manikrao Thakre (Congress) came to end.
At least two senior leaders of the Congress said the chief minister has made their demand for the Leader of Opposition (LoP) status for Wadettiwar conditional.
The LoP enjoys the status of a Cabinet minister in Maharashtra.
The catch in Fadnavis' 'offer' is that the post, which has tenure of six years, might go to an NDA nominee due to their strength in the Upper House if elections are held, a situation the NCP is trying to avoid, sources said.
The Congress and the NCP are discussing the issue and finalising the name of the Congress MLC who will contest the election for the deputy chairman's post, they said.
According to sources in the NDA, the Shiv Sena is likely to contest the election.
In the 78-member Legislative Council, the BJP has the maximum 23 legislators while ally Sena has 12.
The Congress has 16 members and the NCP 17 while the parties like the Lok Bharati, the PWP and the RSP, have one member each.
There are six Independents.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Congress and the NCP have admitted that they failed to gauge the political situation by delaying election to the post of the deputy chairman.
A decision on the issue is likely to be taken by the Opposition in a couple of days.
Earlier in the day, Opposition members in the Legislative Assembly asked Speaker Haribhau Bagade to nominate Waddetiwar as the LOP.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Balasaheb Thorat said he had written to the Speaker about their demand.
Thorat said since Waddetiwar was the Congress group leader, he should be nominated as the LoP as he enjoyed the support of all opposition parties.