NCP removes Maharashtra Council chief with BJP help

Shiv Sena abstains from voting; Cong protests

In a major political development that signals the growing friendship between the NCP and the BJP, the Sharad Pawar-led party on Monday managed to oust Shivajirao Deshmukh of the Congress as Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, with BJP’s support.

This comes as a major shot in the arm for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is often facing trouble from the Shiv Sena, BJP’s alliance partner, with the latter opposing the government on several important issues. The development comes in the wake of February 14 Valentine’s Day bridge-building meeting between Pawar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. NCP’s Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar is tipped to be the next chairman.

The no-confidence motion against Deshmukh saw 45 MLCs voting in favour and 22 against it. The Shiv Sena abstained from voting.  The strength of the Council is 78. With 28 members, the NCP is the single-largest party followed by the Congress (21), the BJP (12) and the Shiv Sena (7), Independents (7), Lok Bharti (1) and People’s Republican Party (1).

The NCP had initially expected that Deshmukh would resign. However, he preferred to face the test in the House.

In the earlier scheme of things during the Congress-NCP government, while Deshmukh was Chairman, Vasant Davkare of NCP was Deputy Chairman. After the elections, when political scene changed, NCP’s Dhananjay Munde was elected Leader of Opposition.

“We have supported the NCP for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Congress-mukta Bharat,” revenue minister Eknathrao Khadse told reporters.
“Our stand was very clear. Since the BJP went with NCP, it should not appear that we are going with the Congress. We took a principled stand,” Shiv Sena spokesperson Dr Neelam Gorhe said.
“I have done no wrong to face this situation. However, life has been a struggle and I am ready for another one,” said Deshmukh. 

Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam of Shiv Sena said his party was unaware of any “secret pact” between the BJP and the NCP. “The Sena is being deceived like the NCP deceived the Congress,” he said.

“Considering his age, removing Deshmukh from the chair is against moral principles,” Kadam said.
NCP chief Sunil Tatkare blamed the Congress for the development. “Since we have the numbers, it is imperative for us to have our chairman. Deshmukh should have ideally resigned instead of facing such ignominy,” said Tatkare.

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