Rahul Narvekar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was on Sunday elected as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in the first leg of the two-day special session of the assembly that started on Sunday. Narvekar is a first-time legislator.
While the speaker was elected on Sunday, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's four-day old government will face a floor test on Monday.
BJP's Narvekar was facing Shiv Sena MLA and Uddhav Thackeray loyalist Rajan Salvi, who was the joint candidate of the Sena-NCP-Congress combine. While Narvekar got 164 votes, Rajan got 107 votes.
#WATCH | BJP MLA Rahul Narwekar takes charge as the Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly amid chants of "Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji", "Jai Sri Ram", "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Vande Mataram".— ANI (@ANI) July 3, 2022
(Source: Maharashtra Assembly) pic.twitter.com/oQ1qn2wdcp
Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs who support Shinde returned to Mumbai from Goa on Saturday evening on the eve of the Assembly session, and were lodged in a luxury hotel in south Mumbai, where Vidhan Bhavan, venue of the floor test, is located.
As many as 50 MLAs who support Shinde, including 39 rebel legislators of the Shiv Sena, on Saturday evening flew to Mumbai from Goa by a chartered flight. Shinde, who had flown to Goa in the morning, accompanied them back.
Shinde has the support of 10 legislators of smaller parties and independents and 106 MLAs of the BJP in the 288-member House.
Out of the 287 legislators, 271 voted, while three MLAs —Rais Shaikh, Abu Azmi (both of the Samajwadi Party) and Shah Farukh (AIMIM)— abstained from voting.
As many as 12 MLAs did not attend the Speaker's election in the House.
Two of them —Laxman Jagtap and Mukta Tilak (of the BJP)— are suffering from serious ailments. Two NCP legislators —Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik— are in jail in connection with different money laundering cases. Four other NCP MLAs —Dattatray Bharane, Anna Bansode, Nilesh Lanke and Babandada Shinde— did not show up.
"Bharane did not attend the Speaker's election because of his mother's death a few days back," an NCP leader said.
Two Congress MLAs —Praniti Shinde and Jitesh Antapurkar— also did not attend the session. Antapurkar is getting married on Sunday.
Praniti Shinde is out of the country, a Congress functionary said.
AIMIM MLA Mufti Mohammad Ismail also did not attend the session.
Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra minister Balasaheb Thorat, Thorat, in a statement on the floor of the House while congratulating Narvekar, said, "The Speaker's election took place in a transparent way. This is what we had been demanding with the governor for quite some time. It seems the governor was sleeping for one-and-a-half years."
Earlier this year, leaders of the then ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance had urged Koshyari to approve the schedule for the Assembly Speaker’s election during the budget session in March.
Prior to it, in a previous legislature session, the then MVA government had amended the existing rules to facilitate the Speaker’s election through a voice vote. The governor had described the decision as unconstitutional and sought legal opinion.
In a separate development, the Shinde-led Sena faction sealed the legislative party office in the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai ahead of the two-day special assembly session.
A white paper was stuck with a plastic tape on the closed doors of the Sena legislative party office in the Vidhan Bhavan, with a message in Marathi written on. It said, "The office is closed as per instructions of the Shiv Sena legislative party."
(With PTI inputs)