Congress party and Rahul Gandhi received a major setback as former leader of Opposition from Congress in Maharashtra assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil quits as Congress party MLA. As per sources of Republic, other Congress leaders namely Abdul Sattar, Kalidas Kolambkar and Jaykumar Gore have also resigned from their posts as MLAs, along with Vikhe Patil.
If the other three leaders quit from the party, Congress party in Maharashtra may lose the post of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP). If the MLAs quit the party and resign from the assembly, the Congress’s strength in the House will come down to 37 from 42. Its alliance partner, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which has 41 legislators of the total 288 members, will then become the main opposition party in the assembly and claim the coveted post. However, the Congress is hopeful that the NCP will allow it to hold on to the LoP post. “As there are only four months left for the assembly elections, we hope the NCP will allow our party to keep the post even though they will be having more MLAs than us,” Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil had said.
The anti-defection law will entail that they resign as MLAs and the constituency goes up for re-election. In this case, however, there may be no need for by-polls because the state assembly elections are due in the next four to five months.
Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and others are being speculated to join the BJP. Notably, earlier, Irrigation Minister in Maharashtra government Girish Dattatray Mahajan had also said that Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil will join BJP in the first week of June. Patil met Mahajan at his residence on Tuesday, May 28. Speaking to news agency ANI, Mahajan had said: "After Narendra Modi's oath on May 30 as the Prime Minister of the country for the second time, Patil will join the BJP."
Meanwhile, amid the speculation over troubles in the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar on Saturday dismissed speculation that his party was likely to merge with the Congress. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance managed to dominate Maharashtra by winning 41 seats out of total 48 seats, while the Congress-NCP alliance continued its bleak performance by winning only 5 seats in the state.