After getting party candidate Rahul Narwekar elected as Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the BJP has now shifted its focus to bagging the chairperson post in the state Legislative Council. OBC leader Ram Shinde, a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led government, is the “frontrunner” for the post, party insiders indicated.
Highly placed sources in the party said, “The BJP is working on a strategy to have a clear majority in the state Legislative Council to facilitate a hassle-free victory for its chairperson candidate.” A senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity, said, “Ram Shinde is the frontrunner for the post of chairperson of the Maharashtra legislative council.”
Shinde belongs to the Dhangar community. He was elected as the MLA from the state’s Karjat-Jamkhed constituency in 2009 and 2014, but in the 2019 Assembly polls, he lost to NCP’s Rohit Pawar. Later, he was nominated as an MLC. Shinde’s name was among the three that were recently in the reckoning for the post of state party president, but the BJP finally chose Chandrashekhar Bawankule from the Vidarbha region.
Of the 78 seats in the Legislative Council, the BJP has 24, Shiv Sena 11, NCP 10, Congress 10 and there is one member each from the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) and the Peasant and Workers Party of India (PWPI). Besides, there are five Independent members. This leaves 16 vacancies, including 12 nominees of the Governor.
Highly placed sources in the BJP said, “As a strategy, the party will ensure smooth appointments of the 12 nominees of the Governor. Once it gets the Governor’s clearance on the 12 candidates’ list, it will automatically give the party a clear edge in the numbers game. The BJP’s tally will rise from 24 to 36. With the RSP and one Independent supporter, the party’s strength will add up to 38.”
“If the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena come together, their combined tally will add up to 31 only. With the support of the PWPI and four Independents, it will increase to 36, which is still two less than the BJP’s 38,” the source added.
During the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the governor-nominated list of 12 candidates had become a bone of contention between the constitutional head at the Raj Bhawan and the then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government. Despite Cabinet clearance, the list of 12 candidates sent by the MVA to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari did not get the formal nod.
Sources indicated that the list was withheld as at least two of the MVA’s candidates did not meet certain mandatory criteria. However, a section of the MVA holds the BJP responsible for non-clearance of the list. At present, the BJP is keen on putting up a list of 12 nominees before the governor for approval within the given parameters. With this, the Eknath Shinde-Fadnavis government is determined to assert itself over the MVA in the Assembly as well as Legislative Council.
“Since the BJP has more numbers in the state Legislative Council, it will also have its own deputy chairperson. There is a possibility that the deputy chairperson post will go to someone representing the Eknath Shinde faction,” the source added.
Senior NCP leader Ramraje Nimbalkar was the chairperson of the Legislative Council from 2015 to 2016 and from 2016 to 2022.
Earlier, during the two-day special session held on July 3 and 4, the BJP, along with the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena, won the Speaker polls in the Assembly when Rahul Narwekar was elected the Speaker with 164 votes. The MVA candidate Rajan Salvi polled 107 votes in the 287-member Assembly. Days later, Eknath Shinde won the floor test comfortably, polling 164 votes against the MVA’s 99.