Leaders of the MVA gave precedents of the state assemblies functioning without either a full-fledged Speaker or even a deputy Speaker for over a year. The current Lok Sabha does not have the constitutional post of deputy Speaker even after two years, they pointed out. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray also formally replied to the governor by conveying that the Speaker’s election could wait for a while, especially given the pandemic situation, according to state government insiders.
The MVA gave three precedents: The Madhya Pradesh assembly during the BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan functioned without a Speaker, or even a deputy Speaker, from March 2020 to February 2021. During this period, the House-related matters and assembly session were conducted through two pro tem Speakers, Jagdish Devda and (on he becoming a minister) Rameshswar Sharma, until Girish Gautam was elected Speaker in March, after byelections to 20-odd assembly seats were held. The BJP regime, however, cited Covid-19 situation to justify the delay in electing the Speaker/deputy Speaker.
The second precedent referred to again involved the MP assembly from mid-1983 when there was no Speaker for 17 months, during which deputy speaker Ram Kishore Shukla presided over the sessions till he was subsequently elected Speaker. The deputy Speaker’s long spell followed then Speaker Yagya Sharma quitting due to a controversy when the Arjun Singh government was in office.
“Devendra Fadnavis, more so since he is a former CM, should have a sense of basic history of how the post of the assembly Speaker and even the deputy Speaker remained vacant for one year till recently in the Madhya Pradesh assembly under BJP’s current government and also about how the constitutional post of the deputy Speaker in LS has been kept vacant since May 2019 by the Modi regime. It is also unfortunate that the honourable governor didn’t choose to discuss the matter with experts and acquaint himself with these precedents,” senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told ET.
While the Maharashtra ruling front has the numbers to have its nominees elected as Speaker, the lack of hurry to do so, with NCP nominee holding fort as deputy speaker, is seen as a way of the Sena and NCP expressing unhappiness to AICC for the ‘unilateral manner’ in which Nana Patole quit the Speaker’s post after he was elected by the combined strength of the three allies.