BJP helps NCP oust Congressman Deshmukh as Maharashtra legislative council chairman

Maharashtra legislative council chairman Shivajirao Deshmukh of the Congress lost a no-confidence motion brought against him on Monday. NCP's Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar may be elected the new chairman in the next couple of days

Opposition NCP today got support of the ruling BJP to get a no-confidence motion against Chairman of Maharashtra Legislative Council Shivajirao Deshmukh passed.

Deshmukh is a veteran leader of Congress, NCP's ally in the previous government with which it fell out ahead of the Assembly elections last year. 

As many as 45 members voted in favour of the motion and 22 against it. The motion had been moved by NCP, the largest party in the upper house, last week.

Those who voted in favour included 27 members of NCP and 12 of BJP. Shiv Sena, BJP's partner in the ruling coalition, abstained from voting, before calling the motion a murder of democracy. NCP also got one vote each of Shetkari Kamgar Paksha, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, and Shiv Sangram. Three independents also voted in favour of the motion.

NCP group leader Sunil Tatkare said in the house that his party was not casting aspersions on Deshmukh's integrity. "You don't have the requisite number in the Council, still you refuse to part with the post, does it not show your hunger for power? We are not at all against his personal stature. We all respect him highly. It is the malicious ideas that are being planted in his head by the Congress that we are against," Tatkare said.

Shiv Sena, before abstaining from voting, berated both BJP and NCP. It alleged that BJP was deceiving it the same way NCP had deceived Congress.

"Removing Deshmukh at his (advanced) age from the post is unethical. This amounts to killing of the democracy. When he first became the Chairman, it was NCP which gave the best speeches in his favour in the house. What has changed now?" asked Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam.

Congress group leader in the house Manikrao Thakre said a no-confidence motion cannot be brought without a valid reason. "If there is no valid reason, a no-confidence motion cannot be brought. Tell the people of the state if Deshmukh has misused his post or given a ruling against the interests of the people," Thakre said.

The political equations in the state changed dramatically ahead of the Assembly polls in October 2014, with both Congress-NCP and BJP-Sena alliances breaking up. BJP is now seen as having a rather cosy relation with NCP, with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharing dais with the NCP chief Sharad Pawar at a function in Baramati recently.

NCP's Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar may be elected the new chairman in the next couple of days.

The Bharatiya Janata Party supported the NCP, while the Shiv Sena took a neutral stand and abstained from voting.

"We supported the NCP for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of Congress-mukt Bharat," Revenue Minister Eknathrao Khadse told reporters.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said: "Our stand was very clear... since the BJP went with the NCP, it should not appear that we are going with the Congress. We took a principled stand."

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