Maharashtra Assembly is all set to elect its new speaker on Sunday ahead of the test of strength on Monday when the new government will have to prove majority in the house.

The stage is all set for a face-off between Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Salvi and BJP legislator Rahul Narvekar for the post of speaker in the election. The two Shiv Sena factions, one headed by Uddhav Thackeray and the other led by Eknath Shinde, have issued whips asking the MLAs to vote for their respective Speaker candidates.

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

It can be seen that the Assembly Speaker post has been lying vacant since Nana Patole of Congress resigned in February 2021 to become his party’s state unit president. Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal had been officiating as the acting Speaker.

The election for the Assembly Speaker is crucial in view of the recent turn of events in the state. Experts suggest that the Speaker may dismiss the disqualification proceedings against 16 rebel MLAs, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The disqualification notices were issued to them by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal last month.

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

If the Speaker recognises the Shinde faction as the “real” Shiv Sena, the group will not be required to merge with any other political party. Eknath Shinde has contended that he is Sena’s Legislature Party Leader as he enjoys 2/3rd majority.

The Eknath Shinde government will face the test of strength in the assembly on Monday. Shinde landed in Mumbai last evening along with 50 MLAs, including 39 Sena rebels – who were staying at a Goa hotel after returning from Assam. 

Also read: Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde slams rebel MLAs over their dance at Goa hotel

On Friday, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray removed Shinde as the party leader for indulging in “anti-party activities”. The Shinde faction says it will challenge the decision as it is the “real” Sena now.

After the Shinde camp managed to form the government with the BJP’s help, the battle has now moved to taking control of the Shiv Sena, the party founded by Thackeray’s father Bal Thackeray.