Maharashtra Assembly Speaker quits, may be named state Congress chief
Mumbai, February 4, 2021
Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Nana F. Patole resigned from his post here on Thursday evening. He submitted his resignation to Deputy Speaker Narhari S. Zhirwal, after a tenure of nearly 14 months in the august post.
The development comes ahead of the 57-year old Patole's likely appointment as the new President of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, according to party sources.
"The Congress high command has asked me to step down from as the Speaker, which I have done accordingly... I thank the party leadership for allowing me to serve as Speaker for the people of the state," he said in brief remarks after quitting.
When queried whether he would be named the next MPCC chief, Patole guardedly said: "The Congress Party has not conveyed any new responsibility to me."
Shortly after this, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar said that since the Congress has vacated the Speaker's post, there would be fresh negotiations among the three ruling allies.
Patole had met both Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP top leaders before tendering his resignation as Speaker, but now a tug-of-war could be played over the crucial post among the three Maha Vikas Aghadi partners.
A legislator from Sakoli in Bhandara district, Patole is expected to be named as the new state Congress head with the announcement coming from New Delhi, according to top party sources here.
Having a chequered political career, Patole was a Congress MLA for three consecutive terms - from 1999-2014 - before he left the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket, he emerged as a giantkiller by defeating senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel, who is a close confidant of NCP President Sharad Pawar.
Popularly known as "Nana Bhau", the aggressive Patole was the earliest and first to openly revolt against Prime Minister Narendra Modi after which he resigned as BJP MP from Bhandara-Gondiya in 2017.
However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he was trounced from the Nagpur seat by Vidarbha BJP stalwart and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
The Chairman of All India Kisan Congress (AIKC), in October 2019, Patole contested and won the Sakoli seat to enter the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and was later elected the Speaker after the MVA government took office in November 2019.
Presently, the MPCC President is Balasaheb Thorat, who is also the state's Revenue Minister, and there are five other senior leaders as Working Presidents -- Nitin Raut, Yashomati Thakur, Muzaffar Hussain, Basavraj Patil and Vishwajeet Kadam.