Senior BJP legislator Haribhau Bagde was on Wednesday unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly after Congress and Shiv Sena withdrew their candidates from the race.
Congress candidate Varsha Gaikwad withdrew her nomination for the Speaker’s post after former ally NCP declined to support her, party sources said.
Gaikwad had earlier met NCP chief Sharad Pawar to seek support for her candidature. Even state Congress president Manikrao Thakre had spoken to his NCP counterpart Sunil Tatkare seeking support for Gaikwad.
Congress MLAs Vijay Waddetiwar and Abdul Sattar earlier on Wednesday met NCP state president Tatkare to discuss the Speaker’s election.
However, Tatkare told the Congress legislators that his party will not support their candidate.
On Sena’s withdrawal of their nominee, senior party leader Ramdas Kadam said, “(Sena chief) Uddhavji has decided to support BJP candidate Haribhau Bagde for the Speaker’s post. Following Uddhavji’s decision, we withdrew our candidate Vijay Auti.”
State Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier appealed to the Congress and Sena to facilitate unopposed election of the Speaker in the 288-member House.
Bagde’s name was announced by Protem Speaker Jiva Pandu Gavit in the newly-constituted Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
Bagde, the MLA from Phulambhari in Aurangabad district, was escorted to the Speaker’s chair by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde and senior most legislator Ganpatrao Deshmukh of PWP.
Fadnavis thanked all the parties for facilitating unanimous election of the Speaker in keeping with the highest traditions of the Lower House.
He described Bagde as a grass root worker and agriculturalist who held several important posts in the BJP as well as the Sena-BJP government in 1995.
Sena leader Eknath Shinde said the party decided to withdraw its candidate after the Chief Minister spoke to party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Earlier, Congress candidate Varsha Gaikwad also withdrew her nomination for the Speaker’s post after former ally NCP declined to support her.