Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Nana Patole on Thursday stepped down from his post, handing over his resignation to Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, reported India Today.

After stepping down from the post, Patole told his supporters that their connection will remain strong. “As an MLA I will continue to work and will follow orders,” he said. “Until, the new Speaker is chosen, the deputy speaker will continue to work.”

Unidentified Congress members told News18 that Patole, an MLA from Sakoli in Bhandara district, was all likely to replace Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat as the chief of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee. A delegation of Congress ministers, led by Thorat, had recently met the party leadership in Delhi. Patole had also met Rahul Gandhi in the national Capital.

Patole had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party after leaving the Congress in 2014. He later returned to the Congress and was elected the Speaker of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government last year.

Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said the new Speaker will be decided by the partners of the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition. The alliance comprises the NCP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena.

“Congress has informed us about Nana Patole’s resignation,” Pawar said. “Now, who will be next Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly will have to be discussed among partners of Maha Vikas Aghadi. Yes, in 2019 formula, [the] Speaker position went to Congress but then it was also not decided that Speaker will resign after one year.”

The budget session of the state legislature is slated to begin on March 1.