As the race to the Maharashtra speaker post heats up, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday picked first-time MLA Rahul Narvekar as their candidate.
A communique issued by the state legislature secretariat to the Assembly members said the election to the post of the Speaker of the House will be held on July 3. Nominations for the post were accepted till 12 noon on July 2.
Election for the post, if needed, will be held on July 3, when a special two-day session of the Assembly, called to allow the new Eknath Shinde-led government to prove its majority, begins. The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance is yet to announce its candidate for the position, which has been lying vacant since Congress MLA Nana Patole resigned from the post in February last year.
Narvekar, the MLA from Colaba Assembly constituency in Mumbai, is the son-in-law of NCP leader Ramraje Nimbalkar, who is chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, and had been earlier associated with the Sharad Pawar-led party and also the Shiv Sena.
Narvekar was with the Shiv Sena for nearly 15 years before he resigned in 2014. A party spokesperson, he quit over the issue of nomination to the Maharashtra Legislative council.
After resigning from the Sena, he joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and contested the Lok Sabha election from the Maval constituency. However, he lost the election and came at the third position with just 15 per cent vote share.
In 2019, ahead of the assembly elections, Narvekar joined the BJP. He contested the assembly elections from Colaba and won the seat by defeating the Congress candidate by over 15,000 votes.
An advocate by profession, Narvekar’s father, Suresh Narvekar, was a Municipal Councillor from Colaba. His brother Makarand Narvekar is a second-term Municipal Councillor and his sister-in-law Harshita Narvekar is a Municipal Councillor.
Generally, a senior legislator, who is well-versed with House proceedings, conventions, previous rulings and precedents, is appointed the speaker.
Amid the nomination, senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat sought to know how Governor Koshyari can allow election of the Assembly Speaker now when he had refused to give consent for the process earlier this year when the Shiv Sena-led MVA was in power. Talking to reporters, Thorat, who was a minister in the erstwhile MVA government, said a delegation of the then-ruling alliance had called on the Governor and requested him to allow holding of the Speaker’s election.
“We got a reply (from the Governor) that the matter was sub-judice. The (Bombay) HC had already rejected a petition challenging our decision to amend rules regarding Speaker’s election making it through voice vote and it was pending before the Supreme court,” Thorat said. He sought to know what has changed now. “Will the Governor allow the election through voice vote or secret ballot?” the Congress leader asked.
Thorat showed a Raj Bhavan letter dated March 15 this year rejecting the MVA government ‘a request to allow the Speaker election. The MVA government amended relevant rules in December 2021 and opted for open voting method (voice vote and show of hands instead of secret ballot) to elect Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.
The new rules were challenged by BJP MLA Girish Mahajan in the Bombay High Court, which dismissed his petition on March 9. Mahajan later approached the Supreme Court, where the issue is pending.
Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil said the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs will invite disqualification if they don’t vote in favour of the MVA candidate in the Speaker’s election. Talking to reporters here, Patil said the three-party alliance, consisting of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress, will put up a joint candidate for the post.
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