Mumbai, Dec 1 (IANS) Well-known farmers’ leader Nana F. Patole – who shot to fame after he revolted against Prime Minister Narendra Modi two years ago – was elected unopposed to the post of 14th Speaker of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, here on Sunday.
A former Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Bhandara-Gondiya in the state, he was among the first to slam the PM, party leaders in centre and state and had quit the party and his seat in December 2017.
He had released a 14-point letter citing the reasons for his resignation and even attacked the Maharashtra government earlier for the manner in which it implemented the farm loans waiver scheme.
Patole’s resignation came barely hours before the crucial Gujarat Assembly elections and he made a high profile ‘ghar wapasi’ to the Congress for which he campaigned aggressively against the BJP in Modi’s home-state.
On OBC and farmers leader, Patole, 56, started his political career in 1990 at the Bhandara Zilla Parishad and was first elected as Congress MLA in 1999, later in 2004 and in 2009 on a BJP ticket.
He remained with the Congress till 2008, remained independent for a year and joined the BJP in 2009 and won the Sakoli seat in Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra.
In 2014, he emerged as a ‘giant-killer’ by trouncing sitting Nationalist Congress Party MP and Union Minister Praful Patel, but quit in Dec. 2017.
Patole rejoined the Congress and contested the 2019 Lok Sabha unsuccessfully against BJP Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Six months later, he contested the assembly elections and was elected from Sakoli constituency, trouncing a BJP minister of state Parinay Fuke.
After the Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising Sena-NCP-Congress came to power last week, Patole was elected unopposed as the Speaker after the BJP withdrew its candidate Kisan Kathore from the fray.
He succeeds the BJP’s Speaker Haribhau Bagade and his elevation is viewed as a signal that the new MVA government is ‘pro-farmer’ besides an attempt to maintain ‘a political equilibrium’ between the eastern and western regions of the state as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray hails from Mumbai, and especially more since the previous CM Devendra Fadnavis was from Nagpur.