Ajit Pawar’s ‘speaker’ remarks surprising: Maha Cong chief Patole

New Delhi: Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole on Friday termed “surprising” NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s remarks that Patole resigned as Speaker in 2021 without consulting then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

It is not the time to get into ifs and buts when the Supreme Court has given a chance to take the state’s progressive ideology forward, Patole told reporters.

His assertion came after Pawar said the matter of disqualification of 16 MLAs following the upheaval in the undivided Shiv Sena last year could have been dealt with effectively had the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) moved swiftly after Patole’s resignation as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly.

“First of all, the then Speaker of the Assembly (Patole) resigned without consulting the then CM Uddhav Thackeray. It was announced only after he resigned. It should not have happened in the first place but it happened,” said Pawar.

Asked about the remarks, Patole said, “I am surprised that he raised that question. He himself has given the answer that it was a mistake to not appoint a speaker for a year.”

“The NCP’s deputy speaker (Narhari Zirwal) is also accountable. He had the speaker’s mandate why didn’t he act? Why doesn’t Ajit Pawar answer that? One should not get into ifs and buts, a lot of time has passed,” Patole told reporters outside 10, Janpath where he met former party chief Rahul Gandhi.

Patole is learnt to have discussed the political situation in Maharashtra in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment on the political row.

“One should understand what the Supreme Court has said, instead of being blind for power. It is important to see how one can maintain Maharashtra’s progressive ideology for which a chance has been given to us by Supreme Court. To make such remarks at such a time is surprising and this is not the time for such comments,” he said on Pawar’s remarks.

Patole said that in his meeting with Gandhi he discussed Maharashtra politics, the party organisation and how to make the Congress the number one party in the state.

“The way Supreme Court has given the verdict…the Congress always alleged that the Governor’s House was functioning at the behest of the BJP. The Supreme court has unveiled the real face of the BJP that talks about being the party with a difference,” Patole said.

“If they had morality, the Supreme Court indirectly said the government is unconstitutional, they would resign but I don’t think they will do so because they can do anything for power,” he said.

Patole’s meeting with Gandhi came a day after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the political crisis that led to the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government following a rebellion by Eknath Shinde, who later allied with the BJP to become the chief minister.

After Patole’s resignation (in February 2021), the MVA, which had NCP, Congress and undivided Sena as partners, should have taken up the issue of the Speaker’s appointment, Ajit Pawar said in Mumbai.

“But unfortunately, we as MVA, failed to do that,” said Pawar, who was the deputy chief minister in the MVA government.

The issue of disqualification, triggered by the Shinde faction’s revolt, could have been resolved had there been a Speaker, he said. But for a long time, the deputy speaker was looking after the House proceedings, said Pawar, who is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

The Supreme Court on Thursday held that it cannot restore the MVA government led by Thackeray as he resigned without facing a floor test in June last year. The court asked the Speaker to decide on the disqualification of 16 MLAs within a “reasonable period”.