Maharashtra Assembly: BJP’s Rahul Narvekar Elected as New Speaker

The post had been lying vacant since Nana Patole of the Congress Party resigned in February 2021.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) MLA Rahul Narvekar was elected as Speaker in the Maharashtra Assembly on Sunday, 3 July. The post had been lying vacant since Nana Patole of the Congress party resigned in February 2021.

He was elected with 164 votes.

Narwekar took charge as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly amid chants of "Jai Sri Ram", "Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji","Bharat Mata ki Jai" and "Vande Mataram."

Speaking as the chief minister for the first time within the Assembly, Eknath Shinde said, "Now a BJP-Shiv Sena govt has taken charge, based on the beliefs of Balasaheb Thackeray."

He added that to this day, "we had seen that people change sides from Opposition to government but this time leaders of government went to Opposition," news agency ANI reported.

Additionally, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said in the State Assembly, "This government of BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, under the leadership of Eknath Shinde, will try to fulfill all the aspirations of Maharashtra and we hope that you (Speaker) will give a good cooperation for the same."

The election for the post was crucial, especially in view of the recent political upheaval in the state which saw rebel MLA leader Eknath Shinde being sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra. Narwekar now holds the power to dismiss the disqualification proceedings, brought forth by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal against 16 rebel Sena MLAs, including Shinde.

"I myself was a minister, several other ministers too left the government," the chief minister said, adding that it is a "huge thing for a common worker like me who was devoted to the ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe."

Moreover, if Narvekar were to recognise the Eknath Shinde faction as the “real” Shiv Sena, it will erase the need for the group to merge with any other political party.

Shinde has maintained that he is the party leader in the legislature since he enjoys a two-third majority.

Meanwhile, the Sena legislative party office was sealed and a notice was put up that read, "This office is closed as per instructions of Shiv Sena legislative party office," was posted outside, in Marathi, news agency ANI reported.

Who is Rahul Narvekar?

Narvekar has been associated with the Shiv Sena and the NCP in the past, before jumping ship to the BJP. Presently, Narvekar is an MLA from Mumbai's Colaba assembly constituency, an area he was born and raised in. His brother, Makarand Narvekar is a corporator from Colaba.

Narvekar started his political career as the spokesperson of the Youth Wing of Shiv Sena in early years. But in 2014, he quit the party and joined the NCP. He then contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Maval, but lost to the Shiv Sena candidate Shrirang Appa Barne.

Then, just ahead of the 2019 Maharashtra assembly polls, Narvekar joined the BJP and contested on the party’s ticket from Colaba. He won the assembly elections defeating Congress' Ashok Jagtap. He was also subsequently made the media in-charge for the BJP.

Narvekar is also the son-in-law of senior NCP leader Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, an NCP leader and speaker of the Maharashtra legislative council.

(This is a developing copy. It will be updated with more details)

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