Tussle for posts of leader of opposition in Maharashtra

Nagpur: A tussle broke out between former allies of 15 years, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), over the post of leader of opposition in the upper and lower houses of the Maharashtra legislature as the winter session of the assembly started here Monday.

The leader of opposition post in the lower house fell vacant after the Shiv Sena last week joined the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Sena's Eknath Shinde, who occupied the post since Nov, is now a cabinet minister.

With both parties hoping to grab the vacant post, the rift between the Congress-NCP was obvious with virtually no co-ordination on the opening day of the new government's first full-fledged session of the legislature.

Similarly, the post of leader of opposition in the council fell vacant after the incumbent, BJP's Vinod Tawde was elected to the assembly in Oct and is now a cabinet minister.

Without mutual consultations between them or the other opposition parties, both the Congress and the NCP - which jointly ruled the state between 1999-2014 - have staked independent claims for the posts of leaders of opposition in both the houses.

The Congress has staked claim to the post in the assembly, where it is now the largest group with 41 MLAs, proposing the name of Congress Legislature Party Leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.

The NCP, which commands a higher strength of 28 compared to the Congress's 22, has nominated Dhananjay Munde for the post in the upper house. He is a nephew of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde and cousin of present state minister Pankaja Munde.

A decision on both posts is likely to be taken shortly, top leaders from both parties indicated Monday.

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