While speaking to reporters, Pawar emphasized that traditionally, the party with the highest number of seats assumes the position of the Leader of the Opposition.
When questioned about whether the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) would claim the role of the opposition leader in the Maharashtra Council, considering the recent joining of Shiv Sena (UBT) MLC Manisha Kayande in Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena, Pawar responded.
During the Shiv Sena (UBT) plenary in Mumbai on Sunday, Raut stated that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance would continue as long as Uddhav Thackeray desires.
In response to Raut’s statement, Pawar commented, “That was the viewpoint expressed by their (Shiv Sena-UBT’s) spokesperson. However, I believe that the final decision regarding the alliance rests with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi through Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, and Uddhav Thackeray.”
Pawar further mentioned that the three parties—Shiv Sena UBT, NCP, and Congress—united following the 2019 elections; otherwise, a government would not have been formed.
“Be it NCP, Congress or Shiv Sena or any political party, they have the right to expand their party base. But while doing this as a part of MVA, it should not happen that others (BJP and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena) benefit,” the NCP leader added.
When asked if NCP would stake a claim for the post of Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, Pawar said, “Whatever you are asking me, we have not yet decided anything on it but since you have brought this to our notice, we will think over it”.
As per the Maharashtra legislature, as on February 8, 2023, the BJP has the highest 22 MLCs in the 78-member Council, followed by 11 of Shiv Sena. The NCP has 9 MLCs, Congress 8, while three belong to smaller parties, and 4 Independents. 21 seats are lying vacant.
Two MLCs of Shiv Sena (UBT)- Kayande and Viplove Bajoria- have joined the Shinde camp.
Kayande is not expelled by her parent party. Her term as an MLC expires in July 2024.
Queried whether any meeting has been convened to discuss this issue, Pawar said the NCP’s June 21 meet was planned earlier and it has no connection with the recent development.
“We wanted to organise a meeting in Ahmednagar on June 9 but it was postponed due to rain. Now we have kept the meeting of selective invitees on June 21 which will be related to Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council,” said Pawar, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.
He expressed concern over the delayed monsoon and the lack of water for irrigating crops.
“The demand for tankers is high in regions like Konkan. The delayed onset of monsoon will affect sugar mills in the state,” the former deputy chief minister added.
(With inputs from PTI)