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Maharashtra: Speaker likely from Congress , but no clarity on second deputy CM post

Nov 30, 2019

Despite protracted discussions in the presence of party leaders Ahmed Patel and Sharad Pawar, the tussle between Congress and NCP over the post of deputy chief minister (DCM) has not yet been resolved.

The emerging consensus within the tri-party alliance was to allocate the chief minister’s post to Shiv Sena, speaker’s to Congress and DCM’s to NCP.

 Thus, Uddhav Thackeray was installed CM, but Congress has now taken the view that it is not keen to nominate the speaker and would rather prefer a DCM’s post.

 This disagreement has been partially bridged with Congress agreeing to put up its nominee for the speaker—the election will be held on Sunday—but the DCM’s post is still a subject of discussion.

 “It’s a fact that there is a dispute, but we will resolve it. We may create two DCM posts, one for Congress and other for NCP,’’ an NCP leader told TOI.

 It was at a meeting on November 20 in Delhi in the presence of Patel and Pawar that the state Congress unit suggested a power-sharing formula—the speaker’s post for itself, deputy speaker to NCP and two DCMs, one each for Congress and one for NCP.

‘DCM post crucial for Cong given its public profile’

 This arrangement was believed to have been accepted by all constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi. However, days later, at a meeting on November 23 at Nehru Centre, a new structure was proposed-—speaker’s post to Congress, and deputy speaker and DCM to NCP—leading to differences of opinion.

 “Congress claimed that two DCM posts were to be created, while NCP said it was all along decided that there would be one DCM. With claims and counter claims, no decision was taken on even the speaker’s nomination and the entire decision-making process was delayed,’’ the NCP leader said.

 The NCP leader expressed surprise over the attitude of the Congress. “Since the first meeting in Delhi, Congress has insisted on the speaker’s post and it had proposed the name of former CM Prithviraj Chavan. Now suddenly, after a government has been installed, it is not keen to accept it and instead wants a DCM. This is shocking. We are in the initial stages, we expect there will be disputes on portfolio sharing too,’’ he said.

 A Congress leader, however, defended the party’s position saying the DCM’s post is crucial given its public profile. “As per protocol, only CM and DCM will be invited for key events and their pictures will appear in government advertisements. That is why we are demanding the DCM post,’’ he said.

 Reacting to the conflict, NCP leader Ajit Pawar took a firm line saying as per the understanding, the speaker’s post would be allotted to Congress and the DCM to NCP. “There is no question of revising the proposal. DCM post will remain with NCP and speaker with Congress,’’ he said.

 It is believed Pawar himself is a strong contender for the DCM’s position.

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