Mumbai: First-time BJP legislator Rahul Narwekar was elected as the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker in a special two-day session of the Assembly which began on Sunday.
Narwekar secured 164 votes in the Speaker polls. Sena MLA and Uddhav Thackeray loyalist Rajan Salvi was the candidate of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine. He secured 107 votes.
Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs who support Chief Minister Eknath Shinde returned to Mumbai from Goa on Saturday evening on the eve of a special session for the Speaker election as well as a floor test of the new government.
The election to the post of the Speaker of the House was held after the House proceedings began at 11 am.
The voting was done via head count.
The supporters of the new government were seen wearing saffron turbans.
The post of Assembly Speaker 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 was officiating as acting Speaker in the meantime.
Cabinet formation after session
The decision on forming a new cabinet under Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will be taken after holding the Assembly session, Maharashtra BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said on Saturday.
The decision to allocate portfolios will be taken once the two-day session is over. BJP leaders have been holding meetings with a focus on the two-day session. Once this session is over, the state leadership of both the parties (the BJP and the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena) can decide about the allocation of portfolios," he said.
Shinde took oath as the chief minister on Thursday with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy following the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Wednesday.
Floor test tomorrow
On July 4, newly sworn-in Chief Minister Shinde will take a floor test.
As many as 50 MLAs who support Shinde, including 39 rebel legislators of the Shiv Sena, flew to Mumbai from Goa by a chartered flight on Saturday evening. Shinde, who had flown to Goa in the morning, accompanied them back.
The MLAs were camping at a starred hotel in Dona Paula since June 29 after flying to Goa from Guwahati. Many of them had left Maharashtra on June 21 along with Shinde.
After landing in Mumbai, the rebel MLAs would be staying in a hotel before they attend the special session on Sunday morning, sources said.
In Mumbai, security had been tightened at the airport to avoid any untoward incident in the wake of the recent violent protests against rebel MLAs by Shiv Sena cadres in some parts of the state.
On Wednesday, Thackeray resigned as chief minister after the Supreme Court refused to stay the floor test ordered by the governor and it became apparent that Shinde had support of the majority of Sena MLAs.
Shinde took oath as CM the next day with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.
Which Shiv Sena is 'original'?
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, meanwhile, said there would be a long legal battle ahead for deciding which faction of the Shiv Sena would be considered as the `original' party.
"The court will have final say is what I feel, he told reporters in Pune.
On Friday, Uddhav Thackeray, who heads the Sena, removed Shinde as `Shiv Sena leader' for "anti-party activities". MLA Deepak Kesarkar, a Shinde supporter, said the chief minister will challenge the decision in a court.
Earlier, Thackeray had appointed Ajay Chaudhary as the party's group leader in Assembly, replacing Shinde, which was approved by acting Speaker Zirwal.
On the other hand, several Independent MLAs who support Shinde also moved a motion of no-confidence against Zirwal.
Pawar claimed that the no confidence motion "does not restrict him (Zirwal) from serving the office" and he can still perform the duty of acting Speaker.
The Shiv Sena on Saturday said Fadnavis, a former chief minister, taking oath as deputy CM was a "shocking climax" to the drama of political instability in the state, and questioned the BJP why it did not show a "big heart" by honouring the pact of rotational CM in 2019 when the Sena had demanded the CM's post for two and a half years.
(With PTI inputs.)