Narhari Sitaram Zirwal, Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, has come into the limelight amid the political uproar in Maharashtra. In fact, the role of the Deputy Speaker has increased amid the absence of Speaker of the Assembly and all eyes are now on him. The post of the Speaker is vacant since 2020.
In such a situation, Deputy Speaker Narhari Jhirwal can play an important role in handling the political crisis that has emerged in Maharashtra. Jhirwal on Thursday announced that he has approved the appointment of Ajay Chaudhary as the group leader of Shiv Sena in the House in place of rebel MLA and minister Eknath Shinde.
Read | DNA Explainer: What’s anti-defection law and how Eknath Shinde could well evade it
Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, along with other MLAs, is camping outside Maharashtra and claims to have the support of more than 40 MLAs. This has put the Maharashtra government led by Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress in trouble.
When the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was formed in 2019, then Congress’s Nana Patole became the Speaker of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. But when he was given the responsibility of state Congress chief in 2020, he left the post of Speaker. Since then the Congress party has not selected a new Speaker, which can now cause a problem.
How Deputy Speaker will play an important role?
Eknath Shinde has claimed that he has the support of more than 40 MLAs. This figure meets the two-thirds requirement to beat the anti-defection law. In such a situation, if Shinde’s demand is not accepted, then Shinde will demand from Deputy Speaker Narhari Jhirwal that his faction be recognised as the real Shiv Sena. If this happens then Shiv Sena will be divided into two parts.
Any MLA of the Assembly can petition Deputy Speaker, Narhari Zirwal that certain MLAs have defected from their political party. But documentary evidence has to be provided for this. The Deputy Speaker would then forward the petition to the MLAs against whom the charge of defection stands. The MLAs would have seven days to put across their side of the story.
The rebels too can write to the Deputy Speaker with evidence claiming that they represent two-thirds of the party strength and claim protection under the anti-defection law. In either case, Deputy Speaker will decide the matter after hearing all parties, which could take time.