The special two-day session of the Maharashtra Assembly will begin on Sunday during which a new Speaker will be elected and the newly-formed Eknath Shinde government will face the vote of confidence
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar. Pic/PTI
On the eve of the election of the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said he was of the view that Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal can perform his duty as acting Speaker notwithstanding a no-confidence motion against him, which was moved by the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena.
The special two-day session of the Maharashtra Assembly will begin on Sunday during which a new Speaker will be elected and the newly-formed Eknath Shinde government will face the vote of confidence.
The contest for the post of Speaker lies between Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Salvi and BJP legislator Rahul Narvekar.
Speaking to reporters in Pune over the current challenge before the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sena, Pawar said it will be a long legal battle over which group of Shiv Sena will be considered as the official legislature party.
Pawar said he knew a case from a state wherein some MLAs had voted against the whip of their party, following which the matter was placed before the Speaker, who wasted four years to recognise the party.
"I know an old case wherein the speaker of an Assembly in another state had taken four years to recognise a group of defected MLAs. At the end of the four years, the Assembly's tenure ended thus he ended up helping the government indirectly," the veteran politician said when asked about his views on how the Speaker's election would be held on Sunday when it has not been decided yet which section of Shiv Sena will be considered as the official legislature party.
¿I am sure, it will take a long legal battle in the court over recognising the Shiv Sena group in the Assembly. The court will have the final say I feel," he added.
A section led by Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde recently rebelled against the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray, son of the Sena founder late Bal Thackeray, which led to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the chief minister a day ahead of the floor test on Wednesday realising that he lacked the requisite numbers in the 288-member House as at least 39 out of the total 55 MLAs of Sena have rebelled.
A day after Thackeray stepped down, Eknath Shinde took oath as the chief minister on Thursday with Devendra Fadnavis of BJP as his deputy.
Amid the political crisis, Uddhav Thackeray had appointed Ajay Chaudhary as Sena's legislature party leader replacing Shinde, which was approved by Zirwal.
However, Shinde had contended that he was the leader of the Sena legislature party as he enjoy a two-thirds majority and appointed MLA Bharat Gogawale as the chief whip replacing Sunil Prabhu, who belonged to the Uddhav Thackeray faction.
The rebel MLAs and some Independents backing them had moved a no-confidence motion against Zirwal who had initiated disqualification proceedings against 16 MLAs loyal to Shinde.
Answering a query on Zirwal's legal rights to take a decision (during Speaker's election), Pawar said, "It is true that there is no confidence motion against him, but it does not restrict him from serving the office. He can perform the duty of acting Speaker of the Assembly".
The post of assembly speaker has been lying vacant since Nana Patole of Congress resigned in February last year to become the party's state unit president.
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on July 11 the plea of Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu seeking suspension from the assembly of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending.
The vacation bench of the SC on June 27 granted interim relief to the Shinde faction by extending the time for replying to the disqualification notices sent to 16 rebel Sena MLAs till July 12.
On June 29, the Maharashtra governor ordered a floor test leading the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to rush to the top court seeking its deferment.
The bench refused to stay the direction of the Governor to the 31-month-old MVA government to take a floor test in the Assembly to prove its majority after which the beleaguered chief minister Uddhav Thackeray quit office.
After Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30, Prabhu approached the top court seeking his suspension and of 15 rebels on various grounds, alleging that they are "acting as pawns of the BJP, thereby committing the constitutional sin of defection."
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