Former Minister and senior legislator Shankar Chaudhary, also the Chairman of Banas Dairy, was on Thursday named as the next Speaker of the Gujarat Assembly while another senior legislator Jetha Bharwad has been named as the Deputy Speaker.
Their names were announced by the BJP on Thursday. The election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker is scheduled for December 20, a day after the new Assembly convenes on December 19.
Having won from the Tharad seat in north Gujarat, Mr. Chaudhary, 52, is a powerful Other Backward Class (OBC) face. He was expected to be inducted in the Ministry with some important department but has been picked for the role of the Assembly Speaker in a surprising selection.
On Monday, 16 Ministers were sworn-in but Mr. Chaudhary’s name did not figure in it. Moreover, several heavyweights like Jitu Vaghani, Kiritsinh Rana, Jitu Chaudhary and Purnesh Modi, who were Ministers in the previous government, have not been repeated in the new government after the party’s landslide victory.
In 2017, Mr. Chaudhary had lost from the Vav seat in Banaskantha district against formidable Thakor community leader Geniben Thakor, who also won in 2022. This time, Mr. Chaudhary shifted to Tharad, a seat with a sizeable presence of the Chaudhary community.
Mr. Chaudhary is a seasoned name in the cooperative sector and is the Chairman of Banaskantha District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union which runs Banas Dairy, and also Vice Chairman of the Gujarat State Cooperative Bank.
Another senior MLA, Jetha Bharwad, has been repeated by the BJP as the Deputy Speaker. He was the Deputy Speaker in the previous Assembly as well. Mr. Bharwad is the MLA from Sehra seat in central Gujarat.
Both leaders had courted controversy in 2012 when they were accused of watching a pornographic clip on an iPad inside the Assembly. After allegations in the media, the Assembly Speaker had ordered a probe in which both were given the clean chit after the Forensic Science Laboratory examined the iPad and said that no such content was accessed from the said gadget.