Mumbai: Even though the BJP has designated itself as playing second fiddle in the new government of Maharashtra, it is clearly wielding the conductor’s baton and will be directing Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. For starters, the party has fielded its legislator Rahul Narwekar, who is close to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, for the post of Speaker of the Maharashtra assembly, with the election finally slated to be held on July 3. Narwekar’s victory is a foregone conclusion, as Shinde claims the support of 170 legislators - 120 from the BJP and its supporters and 50 of its own (including Independents).
With the nomination of Narwekar, the BJP will clearly be in command of assembly proceedings. Narwekar has been picked by Fadnavis as he is a lawyer and his knowledge of the Constitution and rules of the legislature will come in handy to fight battles on the floor of the House and in the Supreme Court. Narwekar will settle the issue of notices served by the deputy speaker to the 16 rebel MLAs, with the matter to be heard by the apex court on July 12.
State NCP chief Jayant Patil said that his party, along with the Shiv Sena and the Congress would nominate a common candidate for the assembly Speaker’s post.
Shinde will move a confidence motion on July 4 and is confident of cruising through due to numbers. The motion is expected to be passed by voice vote, as the Maha Vikas Aghadi will not press for a ballot vote for want of adequate numbers.
The Congress party has targeted Governor B S Koshyari for promptly giving the go-ahead to the new government for the Speaker’s election. Congress Legislature Party leader and former minister Balasaheb Thorat said, “The Congress has consistently placed its demand before the governor to allow the election for the post of assembly Speaker. But the governor said that the matter was in the Supreme Court and it was sub judice. So now, under what rules will the Speaker’s election be held on July 3?”
The principal secretary to the governor, Santosh Kumar, in his letter dated March 15, 2022, to Legislative Affairs Secretary Satish Waghole had said, “I am directed to inform you that since the matter is sub judice, the date of election of Speaker of the Legislative Assembly cannot be fixed. Accordingly, the file in this regard is returned herewith.”
BJP will call the shots
It is clear that the BJP, with 106 legislators and the support of seven Independents and smaller parties, will call the shots in the functioning of the government, in the allocation of funds to various schemes and to legislators and seeking clearances from the Centre and funds. This apart, the BJP will also dictate terms to Shinde on how to tame the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and the NCP and the Congress ahead of the upcoming civic and local body elections.
Fadnavis is already in action, and on Friday, chaired a meeting to review the present status of the Supreme Court case pertaining to the restoration of the OBC quota, which has been scrapped. He would certainly like to take the lion’s share of the credit in the event of the apex court, after the submission of empirical data, allowing a 27 per cent OBC quota in local and civic bodies ahead of the upcoming elections. Should such a development come to pass, he will most certainly try to earn political capital in the BJP’s favour, once again checkmating the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.
BJP insiders have claimed that the party has staked its claim to key portfolios, including revenue, home, housing and water resources, which it will use fully to spread its wings in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in 2024.