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Legislative council chairman bats for open ballot system

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Newly-elected chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council Shivajirao Deshmukh said he would pursue with the Centre the state legislature’s proposal to adopt an open ballot system in election to state upper house.

The veteran Congress leader was re-elected for the third successive term as Chairman in a special one-day session of the Council held today.

BJP leader Vinod Tawde was re-appointed as the Leader of Opposition during the session wherein newly elected members were formally introduced.

“Elections to the state legislative council should be held through open ballot which is the practice for Rajya Sabha polls. In Rajya Sabha the legislators have to cast their vote by showing it to their party representatives,” Deshmukh said.

The Chairman said he would take up with the Union Home Ministry a proposal passed by the Maharashtra Legislature to this effect.

Maharashtra is one of the six states in the country, having a bicameral Legislature. The State Legislature approved the proposal for doing away with secret ballot in Council polls and introduction of open ballot in 2007.

“I would also strive to make necessary amendments to the Constitution, to start legislative councils in twenty two States across the country, where councils are not functional. Out of the 28 states, only six states have legislative councils. Our constitution has done some really tremendous work,” Deshmukh said in his customary address after election.

As per the convention, Deshmukh was escorted to the chair by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, the Leader of Opposition Vinod Tawde and state parliamentary affairs minister Harshavardhan Patil.

Deshmukh’s election was a formality since his was the only application filed for the post yesterday.

79-year-old Deshmukh took oath as MLC for fourth term last week. He has been the Legislative Council Chairman since 2004.

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