The NCP in alert mode as five deputies from western Maha remain absent during the ballot

On Sunday, when Rahul Narvekar was elected Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly with 164 votes in his favour, beating Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena candidate Rajan Salvi who won 107 votes, alarm bells rang for partners of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

At least five CPN deputies remained absent in the crucial election for the post of president. According to NCP leaders, Indapur MP Datta Bharne was unable to attend after his mother passed away on Friday. Baban Shinde, MP for Mhada was also absent as he is in Australia for personal reasons.

The other two MPs – Dilip Mohite and Anna Bansode reached Vidhan Bhavan late, after which they were unable to participate. In addition, two Congress MPs, including Sushil Kumar Shinde’s daughter, Praniti, a Solapur MP, and another AIMIM MP were also absent. Another MP, Nilesh Lanke, did not attend because he is ill, NCP leaders said.

However, political pundits have observed that all is not well in the MVA camp as lawmakers Pimpri and Parner Bansode and Lanke, who remained absent, are seen as close to former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. MP Dilip Mohite Patil was unhappy with the Thackeray government for ignoring Khed’s constituency.

Despite repeated calls, MLA Patil, Anna Bansode and Lanke were unavailable for comment.

“MP Bharne’s mother died while lawmaker Mohite is in Australia. MLA Lanke is sick and needs bed rest. These are the real reasons and there is no other reason behind their absence. They had informed us in advance and the same was communicated to MVA partners,” NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade said.

Kakade and other NCP leaders have remained silent on whether those MPs will take part in Monday’s ground test, which is crucial for Eknathj Shinde’s government to prove its majority.

Kasba MLA Mukta Tilak and MLA Chinchwad MLA Laxman Jagtap, both of the BJP, also remained absent due to health reasons.

MP Dilip Mohite had expressed his dissatisfaction with the MVA government at the time of the Rajya Sabha elections and openly stated that the job of the legislature was not done. At that time, Ajit Pawar spoke to him, after which he was ready to vote for the Rajya Sabha elections. Bansode is an Ajit Pawar loyalist and was elected for the second time as an NCP legislator where Pawar had campaigned extensively for him.

Late on Sunday, NCP leader Sharad Pawar called a meeting of party MPs to discuss Monday’s confidence vote and which party leader will be chosen as opposition leader. The issue of absentees was also discussed at the meeting.

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