Eknath Shinde government faces trust vote on July 4

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis congratulate newly-elected Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar on July 3, 2022.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis congratulate newly-elected Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar on July 3, 2022. | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Amid beginning of a legal battle between the two factions of the Shiv Sena — one led by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the other by rebel leader and new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde — both groups of the party violated the whips issued by the other group for the Speaker’s election in the Maharashtra Assembly.

On Sunday, the two-day Assembly session was convened to elect the new Speaker and the floor test is slated to be held on Monday. Rahul Narvekar form the BJP was elected Speaker after he garnered 164 votes.

The faction led by Mr. Shinde supported Mr. Narvekar, who received 164 votes against 107 votes of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) nominee Rajan Salvi. Mr. Salvi is a Shiv Sena MLA from Rajapur in Ratnagiri district.

The newly sworn-in duo of Mr. Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis faced its first test in the Assembly in the form of Speaker’s election. The new government, formed after Mr. Shinde rebelled against Shiv Sena president Mr. Thackeray, will face the trust vote on Monday. In the 287-member Assembly (original strength 288 is reduced by one following the death of one Sena MLA), the government would require 145 MLAs. Going by the happenings during the Speaker vote, the trust vote could be a mere formality.

NCP’s criticism

On Sunday, after the House was convened, Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal announced the programme of Speaker election as directed by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. In a sarcastic tone, Nationalist Congress party (NCP) leader Jayant Patil congratulated the Governor for giving the go-ahead to the election after the formation of a new government. “For more than one-and-a-half years, he didn’t allow us to conduct the election. Now we understand the reason behind it,” Mr. Patil taunted.

BJP MLA Chandrakant Patil presented the resolution nominating Mr. Narvekar for the Speaker post, seconded by Girish Mahajan. The MVA fielded Mr. Salvi as its candidate. The BJP‘s resolution was accepted by voice vote and Mr. Zirwal directed head count of those in support and in opposition.

Out of the 287, the NCP’s Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik are behind bars. With the NCP’s Mr. Zirwal presiding over the affairs, the party’s Nilesh Lanke, Dilip Mohite, Dattatraya Bharane, Anna Bansode and Babandada Shinde remained absent along with two ailing BJP MLAs Laxman Jagtap and Mukta Tilak. The Congress’ Praniti Shinde and Jitesh Antapurkar and AIMIM MLA Mufti Sayed too were absent.

Two MLAs of the Samajwadi Party and one AIMIM MLA abstained from voting. Out of the 271 votes polled, 164 votes were in favour of Mr. Narvekar and 107 were against. Three independents — Devendra Bhuyar, Sanjay Shinde and Shankarrao Gadakh — voted in favour of the MVA while the rest of the independents decided to back the BJP.

Youngest-ever Speaker

Mr. Narvekar, who represents the high-profile Colaba constituency in south Mumbai, is the youngest-ever Speaker of Maharashtra. An advocate and former Shiv Sena leader, who was a mentor of Aaditya Thackeray in law studies, later joined the NCP and contested from the Maval Lok Sabha seat in 2014. Prior to 2019 polls, he switched to the BJP and contested from the Colaba Assembly constituency. He is the son-in-law of senior NCP leader and Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar.

Earlier, the two fighting groups of the Sena had issued whips against each other. Mr. Shinde faction’s whip Bharat Gogawale had asked all party MLAs to vote for Mr. Narvekar while Sena whip Sunil Prabhu had asked all party MLAs to vote for Mr. Salvi.

During the head count, 16 Sena MLAs voted against the government, while 39 others voted in favour, violating the whips. Upon conclusion of the procedure, Sena group leader Ajay Chaudhary submitted a letter to Mr. Zirwal putting on record the names of 39 Sena MLAs who voted against party whip.

The opposite group too later submitted the same against 16 party MLAs. Rebel group MLA Deepak Kesarkar said that even his group can talk about the whip but today was not the time for this. Mr. Narvekar later told the media that he is in receipt of the letter by both sides. The office of the Sena legislature party was locked on Sunday morning, claiming it was ordered by the legislature party head. 

Thanks PM, Shah

After the election of Mr. Narvekar, Mr. Shinde thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president J.P. Nadda and Mr. Fadnavis for giving him the post and also congratulated the Colaba MLA for being elected the Speaker.

“This is the government of the Sena and the BJP and we will take forward the Hindutva of Bal Thackeray. This situation is unique that ruling MLAs gave up the power, around eight ministers came with me. There were bigwigs on other side and I was a small worker of the late Bal Thackeray and the late Anand Dighe. I thank all those 50 MLAs who stood with me, “ he said.

Countering him, Mr. Prabhu taunted asking how long will the MLAs remain in their position as they have violated the whip.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2022 10:09:18 am |