The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will claim the coveted post of Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
Post-Diwali, the leaders of NCP, Congress and other allies would meet to fine tune coordination among the two 20-year-old allies.
The NCP has 54 MLAs and Congress 44. Thus, the alliance have a combined strength of 98 in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. The total Opposition strength crosses 100-mark if one adds Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (3), Samajwadi Party (1), Communist Party of India (Marxists) (1), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (1), Peasant's & Worker's Party (1) and some Independents.
In the outgoing Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar of the Congress was the Leader of Opposition. Prior to him, the post was held by Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who quit the post, left the Congress and joined the BJP to become a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government. After the 2014 polls, the Congress had a strength of 42 and NCP 41.
Senior leaders of both parties including Pawar, NCP Maharashtra president Jayant Patil and his Mumbai counterpart and chief spokesman Nawab Malik, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress President Balasaheb Thorat had clearly said that people had mandated them to sit in opposition benches.
"The NCP and Congress has made up its mind not to approach Shiv Sena at this stage. We have to look into the fact that NCP numbers are 10 more than the Congress. They have the claim and also the right as it was Pawar saheb who spearheaded the combined opposition attack," a veteran political analyst said.
There are several frontrunners among the NCP like former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, state NCP President Jayant Patil and Dhananjay Munde, who is currently the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council and Chhagan Bhujbal. Young leaders like Rohit Pawar, the grandnephew of Pawar, will add to the strength of Opposition benches.
"The NCP has a wide choice now. There are several young and experienced leaders cutting across caste factors. There are good orators and leaders with long legislative experience," a source said, adding that the final word would be that of Pawar.
"At this stage, both the Congress and NCP does not want any intra or inter confrontations," the analyst said.