Maharashtra assembly on Sunday voted to elect the new Speaker days after Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new chief minister and the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as his deputy. BJP MLA Rahul Narwekar – a first-time legislator – has got a majority of votes in the 288-member house.
A two-day special session of the state assembly started with the speaker’s election as the first thing on the agenda. Rahul Narwekar of the BJP – the MLA from Colaba – was the ruling coalition’s pick for the post, and the numbers were in his favour. Narwekar, a first-time MLA, was seen as a surprise choice by many for the post.
Also read: Its Sena vs Sena in Maharashtra as Speaker poll to be held today
To contest against him, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine fielded Sena’s Rajan Salvi, a Thackeray loyalist.
Earlier, a Congress leader had to be picked for the post. However, with Uddhav Thackeray witnessing the biggest rebellion in Shiv Sena in recent times, his allies backed a Sena leader for the post.
Also read: Uddhav Thackeray ousts Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde as ‘Shiv Sena leader’
After a voice vote, deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal asked for a headcount. The headcount restarted over some confusion over the votes of two BJP members – Govardhan Sharma and Prakash Patil Bharsakhale.
Sunday’s session is the first time that the legislators gathered after the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. “BJP candidate Rahul Narwekar’s name will be proposed for the speaker’s post. First, there’ll be a voice vote. If someone asks for division of votes then it will be done, and the elected speaker will take charge. We expect our candidate to get 165-170 votes,” Maharashtra BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar told ANI on Sunday morning ahead of the speaker’s election.
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The assembly Speaker polls come a day before Shinde is expected to take the numbers’ test after taking charge. Shinde’s 10-day long rebellion culminated into the fall of the Uddhav Thackeray government and his resignation from the chief minister’s post.
Ekanth Shinde has support of over 50 MLAs, including 38 Sena rebels. The BJP, meanwhile, has 105 MLAs in the 288-member house.
Also read: Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde slams rebel MLAs over their dance at Goa hotel
Shinde and Fadnavis on Saturday night held a meeting – seen as a show of strength – as the rebels returned from Goa to Mumbai.