Four in fray for M'rashtra Council chief

Four in fray for M'rashtra Council chief

The political battle to occupy the coveted post of Chairperson of Maharashtra Legislative Council took a new turn on Thursday with as many as four candidates – from the Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and an Independent in the fray.

To corner the BJP, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, unleashed a strategic move and pitted Dr Neelam Gorhe, in the race. At the same time, the Shiv Sena further mounted trouble for the BJP, by saying that if the BJP fields its candidate, it would withdraw Dr Gorhe. If she wins, she would be the first woman to occupy the post of Chairperson. The BJP has not fielded any candidate.

The elections has been necessitated as earlier this week, through a no-confidence motion, the NCP with the help of BJP managed to remove Shivajirao Deshmukh of the Congress, who was the Chairman for close to a decade. The Shiv Sena abstained from voting.

The strength of the Council is 78. With 28 members, the NCP is the single largest party in the Council, followed by the Congress (21), the BJP (12) and the Shiv Sena (7), Independents (7), Lok Bharti (1) and the People’s Republican Party (1).The NCP has fielded Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar, a member of the royal family of Nimbalkar from Phaltan in Western Maharashtra. A strong supporter of the NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, he had served as a minister in the erstwhile Congress-NCP Democratic Front government.

The Congress has put up Sharad Ranpise, who is a close to former MPCC president Manikrao Thakre and is a Congress loyalist. Besides, Shrikant Deshpande, an independent MLC from Amravati Teachers' constituency, has also filed his  nomination.

Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam said that his party has met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and sought BJP support for Dr Gorhe. “The chief minister and Uddhavji would be speaking on this,” he said, adding that if BJP wants to field a candidate, they would withdraw Dr Gorhe.

There are chances that the Shiv Sena and the Congress may both support Deshpande. He was formally associated with the Shiv Sena. The aim is to corner BJP and putting it in difficulty so that it does not vote for the NCP candidate.

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