Maharashtra Assembly: Congress’s Nana Patole Unopposed In Maharashtra Speaker Race As BJP Withdraws Candidate

Mumbai: The BJP has withdrawn Kisan Kathore as the party’s nominee in the election for Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s post. This leaves Congress MLA Nana Patole as the sole candidate in the race and he is expected to be elected unopposed when the Assembly session begins at 11 am. The election for the Speaker was to have been held today, a day after the ruling Sena-Congress-NCP alliance cleared a floor test conducted by a pro-tem Speaker – NCP MLA Dilip Walse Patil.

As many as 169 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly voted in favour of the Maha Vikas Aghadi – the Sena-NCP-Congress alliance headed by Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray – while the BJP’s 105 MLAs staged a walkout.

Nana Patole, 56, a four-time MLA, represents the Sakoli Assembly segment in Vidarbha. He was with the Congress earlier but quit and contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket; he beat NCP strongman Praful Patel from the Bhandara-Gondiya seat.

However, in December 2017 he quit following differences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and returned to the Congress.

A former Kisan Wing leader, Mr Patole’s nomination has been seen by many as an attempt to reach out to agrarian communities in the state. His nomination has also been seen as an attempt by his party to maintain a balance of power between various regions as most of the top NCP and Congress leaders hail from western Maharashtra.

“They (the BJP) have the right in democracy (to field a candidate). But it has been a tradition in Maharashtra that Speaker is elected unopposed. We hope that tradition continues,” Congress leader Manikrao Thakre said on Saturday.

Kisan Kathore was elected as Thane zilla parishad president in 2002. He became MLA for the first time in 2004 on NCP ticket from Ambernath in Thane district.

He went on to win 2009, 2014 and 2019 Assembly elections from Murbad. He contested the 2014 and 2019 elections on BJP’s ticket.