Maharashtra CM meets Congress leaders, seeks unopposed election of Speaker

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has appealed to all the political parties to facilitate a unanimous election of the Assembly Speaker.

At present, a three-way contest is on the cards tomorrow with the ruling BJP, Congress and Shiv Sena putting up candidates.

Fadnavis today met the Congress leaders including the party's leader in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, in a bid to persuade the party to support BJP's nominee.

CM Devendra Fadnavis
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis

However, Vikhe-Patil, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said that this overture had come too late.

"They should have made the appeal before the nominations were filed. We will take the decision after consulting our leaders," he said.

Fadnavis had told the reporters earlier that he would speak to leaders of other two parties and persuade them to withdraw their candidates. "I will speak to all the parties including Shiv Sena," he said.

While Vikhe-Patil maintained that his party did not want the election to go uncontested, he also said that Congress's candidate Varsha Gaikwad had met NCP president Sharad Pawar and sought his party's support, and the latter told her that NCP would decide after discussing the issue internally.

He also said that though it is a norm that Deputy Speaker's post should go to the opposition, it has not been followed in the last few years.

Congress wanted all the opposition parties to support its nominee, he added.

Asked if Congress considered Shiv Sena an opposition party, Vikhe-Patil said that talks for power-sharing were still on between Sena and BJP.

Haribhau Bagde of BJP, Vijay Auti of Shiv Sena and Gaikwad of Congress have filed nominations for the Speaker's post. The deadline for withdrawal is 10 am tomorrow.

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