New Delhi: The ruling dispensation in Maharashtra is witnessing a tussle among its three partners, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena over the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker’s post, with that position vacant for almost a year. The Maharashtra government is claiming that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had objected to the change of rule initiated by the government which called for the Speaker’s election through voice vote rather than a secret ballot, but sources confirmed that uneasy relationship between Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress is an important factor.
Mumbai based political analyst and author Devesh Thakur said, “In the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi government it was decided that the post of Speaker will remain with the Congress which had 44 MLAs (lowest among the three parties), whose Nana Patole was elected as the Speaker. But in February 2021 he resigned and became the president of the state Congress. The other two parties were not taken in full confidence before this resignation. After becoming the state Congress chief, Patole is making statements which do not suit the MVA alliance. He is touring the state and asking party workers to be ready to fight the elections alone. Many Sena and NCP leaders feel that this is not right for the alliance. This has led to the discomfort and the post has remained vacant for two sessions. Another reason is that the MVA is sceptical regarding the numbers in the Assembly. Previously the election used to happen through secret voting, but the ruling dispensation feared that if the coalition government nominee gets lower than the 169 votes it got during the trust vote in 2019 in a secret ballot because of cross-voting, then it would bring embarrassment. Hence, the rule was changed which called for the Speaker’s election through voice vote rather than a secret ballot. But the Governor had raised objections to the move. Now, we have to see how the MVA alliance passes the test,”.
Some NCP and Sena leaders who wished to be unnamed told The Sunday Guardian that their party was not happy with the Congress move as the post of Speaker was for a full five-year period and not electing a Speaker through the Monsoon and Budget Sessions was a way of protest. The Constitution has not set a time limit for a Speaker to be elected, but it is mandatory that the office of the Speaker should never be empty meaning the deputy speaker or acting speaker has to do the job in the absence of the full-time speaker.
BJP state general secretary Ravindra Chavan said, “MVA government is afraid that’s why they changed the rule. If they are united what’s the problem in secret ballot election for the Speaker’s post?”