Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was elected leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly on Sunday and Nana Patole of the Congress named the speaker, a day after the ruling Maha Vikas Akhadi coalition led by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena won the trust vote.
The Akhadi, comprising the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Congress got 169 votes in the 288-member House on Saturday, even as the BJP, which has 105 MLAs, staged a walkout.
The ruling alliance now faces the challenge of distributing ministerial portfolios and leaders of the three parties are holding consultations to iron out the process. All eyes are on the fate of NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar, who had earlier joined hands with the BJP and became the deputy chief minister, only to return to the fold.
Meanwhile, the assembly met on Sunday with all senior leaders briefly addressing the MLAs.
“I never said I will come back, but I came into this House," Thackeray said, taking a dig at Fadnavis’s campaign tag of Mi punah yein (I will be back). “I can assure this House and the people of Maharashtra that I will not do anything at midnight. I will be working for the interests of the people," he said. The chief minister said he would not call Fadnavis an “Opposition leader", but a “responsible leader". Thackeray said he was “still with the ideology of Hindutva" and would always be.
“The BJP got the people’s mandate as ours is the single largest party. Our strike rate was 70% in the assembly polls, but political arithmetic prevailed over merit. Those who got around 40% marks in the election have formed the government," Fadnavis said. The party is accepting it because of democracy, he said.
PTI contributed to this story.