MUMBAI: If sources within the Congress are to be believed, its legislature party leader Balasaheb Thorat may soon become the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Senior leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Dileep Walse-Patil was appointed Protem Speaker on Friday. This has led to speculation that the party is likely to withdraw its claim on the DCM’s post and instead opt for the post of assembly Speaker. Walse-Patil was Speaker of the assembly between 2009 and 2014.
The unrest within the NCP after the rebellion of Ajit Pawar has not yet settled down. While the majority of party MLAs want Ajit Pawar to become Chief Minister at least for a term of 2.5 years, the party leadership is reluctant to back him. Ajit Pawar isn’t prepared to work under Uddhav Thackeray but also doesn’t want anyone else to become the DCM. To overcome this impasse, the party is learnt to have decided to let go its claim on the DCM’s post and instead settle for the less attractive post of assembly Speaker, sources have said.
The NCP was also wary of the Congress getting the assembly Speaker’s post since the name of former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was doing the rounds, the sources added. As Chief Minister, several actions of Chavan were aimed at finishing off the party, said some NCP leaders. They feared that letting Chavan become the Speaker would make it easier for the BJP to create a rift within the NCP legislature party which was successfully avoided by party chief Sharad Pawar earlier week. This fear led to the party preferring the post of assembly Speaker instead of DCM.
This tangle over the posts of DCM and Assembly Speaker is said to have delayed the portfolio allocation of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government in the state. After the oath-taking ceremony of all the ministers, senior leaders from all the parties had gathered at Sahyadri state guest house to address the issue before going ahead with their first cabinet meeting, sources said.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday questioned the government's delay in proving its majority. “In the first cabinet meeting of the new government, yesterday, they chose to discuss how to prove majority secretly, instead of discussing how assistance and relief can be given to farmers suffering from unseasonal rains,” Fadnavis tweeted.
Fadnavis also asked why the MVA chose to call the house secretly and why the Protem Speaker was changed, saying this means the ruling parties are still not confident in their MLAs.