Dilip Walse-Patil, senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and close confidant of Sharad Pawar, is all set to become the speaker of the 12th Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
Walse-Patil will be pitted against Girish Bapat of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine for the prestigious post.
The election of Walse-Patil to the post - in view of the strong majority enjoyed by the ruling Democratic Front government comprising Congress-NCP - is a foregone conclusion.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, in his meeting with Governor S.C. Jamir, had claimed the support of 170 legislators, including 82 of the Congress and 62 of the NCP, in the 288-member House.
In contrast, the BJP has 46, Shiv Sena 44 and the rest are Independents and other smaller parties, including Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (13), and Samajwadi Party (03).
During the formation of the new ministry Sunday, belying expectations, Dilip Walse-Patil was not included in the cabinet, making it clear that he was in the fray for the post of the speaker.
The other two contenders for the post are former speaker Babasaheb Kuppekar and Madhukar Pichhad.
Based in Pune, Walse-Patil started his career as a personal assistant to Sharad Pawar. He later jumped into active politics and contested the 1990 elections.
Having been a legislator for four terms, he has handled important portfolios like education, energy and finance in the past two DF governments.