The Supreme Court has ordered Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take a floor test tomorrow that will be telecast live and conducted by a Pro-Tem or temporary speaker. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has been asked to appoint a temporary Speaker immediately. The spotlight is now on who that will be.
The Pro-Tem Speaker will administer the oath of office to MLAs elected in last month's Maharashtra polls. Tomorrow's trust vote is expected to be a thriller with both the BJP and the rival Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress alliance claiming a majority. The BJP claims to have the support of 170 MLAs and the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, 162.
By convention, the senior-most member of the assembly is appointed as temporary Speaker but there have been deviations.
The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance has written to the Governor, urging him to follow convention.
In the newly-elected assembly, the Congress's Balasaheb Thorat, serving his eighth term, is most senior. Others who qualify are Ajit Pawar (he is Deputy Chief Minister), NCP's Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse-Patil, BJP's Kalidas Kolambkar and Babanrao Pachpute and Congress MLA Congress's KC Padvi.
The BJP may also propose the name of its sixth-term MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil.
Dilip Walse-Patil has been Speaker before.
Sources say the secretary of Vidhan Bhavan has already submitted the names of the three senior-most members of the House - Balasaheb Thorat, KC Padavi and Kalidas Kolambkar.
In 2014, nine-time MLA Ganpatrao Deshmukh of the Peasants & Workers Party had passed up on the Speaker's job on health grounds. The MLA most senior after him, CPM's Jiva Pandu Gavit, was appointed Pro-Tem Speaker and administered the oath to MLAs.
This time, Ganpatrao Deshmukh, 93, did not contest the polls and Jiva Pandu Gavit lost, which leaves Balasaheb Thorat as the senior most legislator.
Tomorrow's trust vote is expected to be a thriller with both the BJP and the rival Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress alliance claiming a majority. The BJP claims to have the support of 170 MLAs and the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, 162.