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BJP's Rahul Narvekar elected Maharashtra Assembly Speaker ahead of crucial no-trust vote

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Mumbai, July 03: Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Rahul Narwekar has been elected as a new speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly on Sunday with over 160 votes.

Rahul Narvekar

BJP's Rahul Narvekar elected Maharashtra Assembly speaker with 164 votes in the house of 288. BJP has 105 MLAs and CM Shinde has 39 Shiv Sena MLAs.

Samajwadi Party (SP) abstained from voting against BJP candidate Rahul Narwekar. Both its MLAs Abu Azmi and Raees Shaikh kept sitting during the head count. AIMIM also abstained from voting against BJP candidate Rahul Narwekar. Final head count against him is 107. He had received 164 votes in support.

Narvekar 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.

Generally, a senior legislator, who is well-versed with House proceedings, conventions, previous rulings and precedents, is appointed the speaker.

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, on Saturday evening flew to Mumbai from Goa by a chartered flight. Shinde, who had flown to Goa in the morning, accompanied them back.

The MLAs have been 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.

In Mumbai, security has 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 the support of the majority of Sena MLAs.

Shinde took oath as CM the next day with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.

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.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, meanwhile, said there would be a long legal battle ahead to decide 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 court.

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