Narayan Rane’s exit: Ajit Pawar now front runner for post of Oppn leader in Maharashtra Assembly
Pawar is currently the leader of the legislative party in the Maharashtra Assemblymumbai Updated: Sep 22, 2017 10:24 IST
With Narayan Rane’s exit, the Congress is likely to lose its post of Opposition leader in the state Assembly. Its ally, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is ready to stake a claim to the post, for which former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is considered to be the front runner. Pawar is currently the leader of the legislative party in the Assembly.
“We will stake a claim to the post if the NCP emerges as the biggest Opposition party in terms of strength in the Assembly,” said Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson. With Rane expected to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), buzz is that his son Nitesh Rane — an MLA from the Kankavli constituency of Sindhudurg — and close aide Kalidas Kolambkar — seven-time MLA from Wadala — will follow suit.
Currently, the Congress has 42 members in the Assembly, while the NCP has 41. If Nitesh and Kolambkar quit, the Congress’ strength will come down to 40, making the NCP the main Opposition party by default.
This has triggered speculations over who will lead the NCP in the lower House. “We have many senior leaders. But, Ajit Pawar is a popular choice among party legislators owing to his appeal and aggressive nature,” said a senior leader, who did not wish to be identified.
If this happens, the Congress will lose yet another important position is the state legislature. It lost the legislative council chairman post early in 2015. Senior Congress leader and the then council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh was voted out in a no-confidence motion moved by the NCP. Currently, the NCP is single largest party in the upper House (council) with 23 legislators, followed by Congress (21) and BJP (17). The move will further widen the rift between both allies.