Uncertainty looms large over the Speaker’s election, which is slated for the concluding day of the ongoing winter session on December 28, as the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is yet to obtain the approval of Governor BS Koshyari for the voice vote.
The State legislature on Wednesday passed a motion proposing that the Speaker's election be held through voice vote, instead of secret ballot. The state government has forwarded its proposal to the Governor for his approval, which is awaited.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party has already opposed the resolution and questioned why the government feels insecure despite claiming a support of 170 legislators on the floor of House. The BJP has also raised objections against the Speaker’s election in the absence of 12 suspended party legislators; they were suspended after they allegedly misbehaved with presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav in the Speaker's chamber.
A three-member MVA delegation comprising Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Food and Civil Supply Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday met the Governor and appealed to him to clear the state government’s proposal for conducting the Speaker's election by voice vote.
Bhujbal told the Free Press Journal, '‘The state government has already sent the proposal for Governor’s approval. Today, we urged him to give his nod.’’ He added that the Governor has said he will convey his decision on Monday.
The Speaker’s post has been lying vacant for almost 9 months after the incumbent Nana Patole resigned and took over as the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President. Former chief ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan, energy minister Nitin Raut, tribal development minister KC Padvi and legislator Sangram Thopte are the front-runners for the Speaker’s post.
A senior MVA minister said that the Governor may not clear the government’s proposal, as he may be miffed over the state cabinet’s recent decision to clip his power to recommend names for the vice chancellor's posts.
Further, section 9(A) has been incorporated in the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016, seeking to appoint the higher and technical education minister as the pro-chancellor of the universities.
The minister further recalled that the Governor, ahead of the monsoon session, in a letter, had asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to respond to Fadnavis’ demand for Speaker's election. '‘The chief minister had, in his reply, told the Governor that the government was trying to hold the election for the speaker's post at the earliest.
"It is better if each and every MLA can participate in the election process. There is no point in doing things in haste. As per the World Health Organization (WHO) and the union health ministry guidelines, an RT-PCR test done within 72 hours is valid. So, it is not correct to declare a date in advance for holding the Speaker's election," Uddhav had said in the letter.
Thackeray said deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal is officiating as the speaker and he had overseen the proceedings during the budget session held earlier this year. "There is no violation of constitutional provision. There is no time-frame to hold the speaker's election," he added.