Congress will retain Speaker’s post: Ajit Pawar

Deputy CM takes dig at Fadnavis, says BJP will come a cropper in 2022 municipal corporation polls

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday said the Assembly Speaker’s post, which is lying vacant following the resignation of Nana Patole, would remain with the Congress.

“The decision regarding the Speaker’s post had already been decided. The post will stay with the Congress. In the event of any change in this equation, that decision will be taken by the heads of the Shiv Sena [Uddhav Thackeray], the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) [Sharad Pawar] and the Congress [Sonia Gandhi] which constitutes the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition,” Mr. Pawar said.

At the time of the formation of the MVA, the Sena staked claim to the Chief Ministership, the NCP secured the Deputy CM’s post, and the Congress got the Speaker’s post as ‘compensation’.

With the Speaker’s seat now empty, it was speculated that if the NCP or the Sena staked their claims to it, then the Congress would demand a separate Deputy Chief Ministerial post. Mr. Patole had quit the post before his appointment as the new Congress State president.

Mr. Pawar also took jibes at Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, remarking that his boast of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retaining key civic bodies of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad would come a cropper in the 2022 polls. “Mr. Fadnavis has said that the BJP would go it alone for the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) civic polls. They claim to be confident of victory… but I’m warning them that we [MVA] will steal their thunder,” said Mr. Pawar.

In 2017, the BJP had broken the NCP’s stranglehold over the PCMC (Ajit Pawar’s bastion in Pune) and the PMC, sweeping both civic bodies. The BJP has 77 corporators in the PCMC and 100 in the PMC.

The BJP has begun preparations in earnest, anticipating the 2022 electoral struggle for the two cash-rich civic bodies. Mr. Pawar, in his capacity as Pune’s Guardian Minister, is girding the NCP’s loins to take on the BJP.

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