I have not been consulted on Assembly Speaker’s post: Prithviraj Chavan

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Although his name is doing the rounds for Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s post, senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday said the party has not discussed the issue with him.

“I know my name is being speculated. But I have no clue about being appointed or not appointed. No one has discussed the issue with me…” Chavan told indianexpress.com when asked if he would be the next Assembly Speaker.

The election of the Assembly speaker is likely to be held on December 28. On Friday, the state government issued a notification regarding holding the election through voice vote. Till date, the election has been held through a secret ballot. Although the election is a couple of days away, the Congress high command has not made any announcement about it, triggering speculation about possible candidates. State Congress president Nana Patole said, “The name of the candidate will be announced before the election is held… It will be announced at the appropriate time.” Patole had earlier this year resigned as the Assembly Speaker, after which he was appointed the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president. Congress sources said that Patole is keen to make it to the cabinet.

With the Congress high command keeping the name of the candidate under wraps, the names of Prithivaraj Chavan and Sangram Thopte have been doing the rounds for quite a while.

Chavan has a good equation with Shiv Sena president and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. However, Chavan’s relation with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the third partner of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, has been shaky because he had as chief minister during the Congress-NCP regime shot down several NCP proposals, a Congress leader said.

Chavan said the party high command will take the final decision. When asked whether Congress president Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi had discussed the issue with him as he was the senior-most party leader in the state, Chavan said, “Yes, I am a senior leader of the party, but I have no idea who will be the next Assembly Speaker. The party has not consulted me on the issue.”

Asked whether H K Patil, who looks after Congress in Maharashtra, gave any hints to him, Chavan said, “No yet”. Chavan said Patole has also not discussed the issue with him. “There are only speculations about the Speaker’s name. I don’t know whether I will be offered the post or not,” he said.

Asked whether he would accept the post, Chavan said, “Let them first offer me the post… I can’t comment yes or no and indulge in speculation.”

Notably, Chavan was one of the chief architects of the MVA government. “Although NCP chief Sharad Pawar had denied the possibility of a tie-up with the Shiv Sena, Chavan was positive about such an alliance from the day of the state election results. And it was owing to his consistent efforts, the MVA came into existence. But after that he has been side-lined in the party. The party is not even consulting or discussing any key issues concerning the state with him, especially after his name surfaced among the members of G-23,” a Congress leader said.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar alleged that the Speaker’s election is being held without taking the Opposition into confidence. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis demanded that the suspension of 12 party MLAs be revoked before the Assembly Speaker’s election is held. The BJP is likely to demand the Deputy Speaker’s post in case the election for the Speaker’s post is held unopposed.

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