BJP Rebel, Farmer Leader Patole Is Cong’s Pick For Speaker In Maharashtra

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New Delhi: In a strong message to its rival BJP that accuses Congress of being an anti-farmer party and ignoring the issues of farmers, the grand old party on Saturday nominated its former Kisan wing leader Nana Patole for the Speaker's post. According to experts, the move is seen as an attempt to reach out to the agrarian communities in a government that is 'top-heavy' with western Maharashtra and Maratha leaders. Patole, who comes from the OBC Kunabi community in Vidarbha region, was the first BJP MP to rebel against his party during Prime Minister Modi's first term between 2014 to 2019.

Patole had joined the BJP just ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to defeat NCP strongman Praful Patel from Bhandara–Gondiya seat. The leader later rebelled against the saffron party to join Congress, and contested against Union Minister Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur. However, Patole failed to defeat the BJP stalwart. "Congress' decision to nominate Patole could be an attempt to maintain a balance of power between various regions as most of the top NCP and Congress leaders hail from western Maharashtra," a political expert said.

It as well thought decision as it's an attempt to maintain both caste and regional balance in Vidarbha region, which has seen many agitations for creation of a separate state comprising of districts in eastern Maharashtra. Notably, outgoing CM Devendra Fadnavis and Patole hail from Vidarbha region. The state has also witnessed several cases of farmers' suicides in Vidarbha region. With the nomination of Patole for Speaker post the grand alliance of Maharashtra has tried to give a message to its rival that they are more concerned about addressing the issues of farmers.

Meanwhile, the BJP named Kisan Kathore as its nominee for the Speaker's post. State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said Kathore, party MLA from Murbad in Thane district, will be its candidate. Kathore was elected as Thane zilla parishad president in 2002. He became MLA for the first time in 2004 on NCP ticket from Ambernath in Thane district. He went on to win 2009, 2014 and 2019 Assembly elections from Murbad. He contested the 2014 and 2019 elections on BJP's ticket. The election will be held on Sunday, a day after the ruling alliance cleared the floor test.

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