Congress senior leader Manikrao Thakre was today unanimously elected as the Deputy Chairman of Maharashtra Legislative Council after BJP nominee Vijay alias Bhai Girkar withdrew his candidature at the last moment.
Both the ruling party and Opposition agreed to the principle of holding the election unopposed in tune with the set traditions of the Upper House.
Despite his party lacking the numbers, Girkar had filed three nomination papers. The papers included signatures of Sena members Neelam Gorhe and Gopikisan Bajoriya.
As soon as the election, held by show of hands, was announced by Council chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar, parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat objected to the congratulatory messages attributed to Thakre, published already in a newspaper today before holding the poll.
"This is disrespect of the House," Bapat said.
A BJP member said the instance is the violation of Model Code of Conduct. However, Nimbalkar said that no model conduct of conduct existed for the said election.
Later congratulating Thakre, former state unit Congress president, on his win, Nimbalkar said Thakre has the ability to lead in trying times.
"I consider myself fortunate that I have had the opportunity of working with a colleague who has the capability of leading in trying times," Nimbalkar said.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Thakre's "sporting" nature will help him defuse any tense situation between the treasury benches and opposition.
"I hope luck favours him and he becomes chairman in future," Fadnavis said, in an apparent jibe at the NCP whose leader Nimbalkar is the incumbent chairman.
Senior NCP member Sunil Tatkare said, "he (Thakre) will become chairman when he has to, but I thank you for expressing the confidence that our relations, both in the Upper as well as Lower House, will remain intact in future as well".
"I, as the president of state unit of my party, feel relieved that all speculations and questions that if we will keep our word have been laid to rest. There were some with vested interests (who) were trying to portray that NCP and BJP have some kind of understanding, when there is none," he said.
The election was necessitated following defeat of Thakre's predecessor Vasant Davkhare in recently concluded MLC elections. Davkhare was defeated by Shiv Sena's Ravindra Phatak from Thane local bodies constituency.
NCP has extended support to Congress for the deputy Chairman's post as a part of earlier understanding.
The Sharad Pawar-led party, with its majority in the upper house, earlier held the posts of both chairman and deputy chairman (Ramraje Nimbalkar and Vasant Davkhare, respectively).