The Eknath Shinde-led faction attended the Maharashtra assembly’s special session in the Vidhan Bhavan on Sunday. On the first day of the two-day affair, the newly elected Chief Minister registered a big win. His choice for Speaker, Rahul Narvekar of the BJP, was elected. The Colaba Assembly constituency leader polled 164 votes and defeated Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena candidate Rajan Salvi, who got 107 votes.

The legislators will assemble on Monday when Eknath Shinde-led government will face a floor test in the 288-member House. 

Also read: Uddhav Thackeray ousts Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde as ‘Shiv Sena leader’

While Narvekar’s appointment as the youngest Speaker in the state is a big win for Shinde, the Maharashtra CM faced stern criticism from the opposition – Uddhav Thackrey -led Shiv Sena – especially on the Aarey Metro shed. 

Aditya Thackrey, son of former CM Uddhav and cabinet minister, after the session said that the Eknath Shinde faction were unable to look their former colleagues in the eye.  

“The rebel MLAs (Eknath Shinde faction), who came today were unable to look us in the eye. How long are you going to move from one hotel to another? These MLAs will have to go to their Assembly constituencies one day. How will they face the people then?” Thackrey asked. 

The Shinde camp returned to Mumbai from Goa on Saturday evening. They had been camping in Surat and then Guwahti for the past month. 

Aditya Thackrey, who is the environment minister, then slammed Shinde for approving the  construction of a metro rail carshed in Mumbai green lung Aarey. He said there are daily sightings of leopards in Aarey, a forested patch adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the north-west part of the city, adding that “Aarey isn’t only about 2700 plus trees, it is about its biodiversity that we are seeking to protect in our Mumbai”.

 Also read: Eknath Shinde, rebel MLAs paid nearly Rs 70 lakh for a week’s stay at Guwahati hotel

There are daily sightings of leopards and other smaller species in the carshed spot and around it, and the previous MVA government is proud to have declared over 800 acres of the site as forest, Thackeray had said in a series of tweets.

One of the first decisions taken by the Eknath Shinde government was to allow construction of the carshed for Metro Line 3 at Aarey, a move that has met with opposition from environmental activists and some political parties, overturning the previous government’s plan to build it at Kanjurmarg.

Former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had also opposed the Aarey move of the Shinde government and asked it to not “stab the city in its heart” by going ahead with the project at the wooded site.

After becoming the chief minister in 2019, one of the first decisions taken by Uddhav Thackeray was to shift the carshed site to Kanjurmarg, though the site is embroiled in a legal dispute as both the Centre and the state have claimed ownership.

“I want to say what we had said in the ears of Devendra Fadanvis for 2.5 yrs (for CM). If he had agreed to that, this situation would not have arrived and most probably it would have changed too (as 2.5 yrs are already passed),” Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray said in the State Assembly.