Sena and BJP exchange verbal volleys after latter helps NCP unseat Maha council chairman

As the BJP and NCP joined hands to unseat legislative council chairman, Congress’ Shivajirao Deshmukh, the BJP hit back at Shiv Sena’s barbs, reminding it that it had also voted against BJP’s presidential candidates

In what is seen as changing political equations in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supported the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in toppling Congress man Shivajirao Deshmukh from the legislative council chairman’s post yesterday. Shiv Sena slammed the BJP for the move, to which the latter reacted with sharp criticism.

NCP had claimed the post on the basis of its majority in the Upper House, and tabled a resolution to remove Deshmukh. The motion needed the approval of at least 40 members in the house of 78. Deshmukh got 23 votes in his favour while 45 votes went against him.

The Sena opposed the motion and slammed the BJP for supporting NCP. As a mark of protest, it abstained from voting. NCP’s 27 members, 12 from BJP, three independents and one each from PWP, RSP, and Shiv Sangram voted for the removal. This is the first time that a chairman was removed through a no-trust motion.

Remember, remember
An angry Shiv Sena asked whether the BJP was a friend or foe. Reacting sharply, the BJP said it voted in NCP’s favour to make the state Congress-free. “No party is untouchable (to us). NCP wanted to remove the Congress man.

Hence, we supported them. We had not protested when the Shiv Sena voted for Congress candidates Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential elections against BJP nominees,” said BJP’s revenue minister, Eknath Khadse.

The Sena had voted for Pratibha Patil in 2007 saying they wanted her, as she was a “Marathi manoos”, as the first woman President. They backed Mukherjee in 2012, calling him a capable person. In a pre-poll debate, the Sena accused the BJP of making an imperfect move and finding a wrong partner in the NCP.

Sena’s Ramdas Kadam described the motion as a blot on the democratic system. “You must prove on the floor of the house as to why a person who has been here for 11 years has lost your trust. We don’t find any problem with Shivajirao (Deshmukh),” he said.

Ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan said the incident was an indication of the NCP going closer to BJP. “This has exposed the BJP’s hidden agenda. NCP had started siding with the BJP when it pulled out of government last year, and when it extended outside support to BJP’s minority government,” he said.

Evading direct comment, Deshmukh said this was a sign of things to come. While NCP gets the chairman’s post, the BJP, in the bargain, will land the deputy chairman’s post.

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