Who will be Pro-Tem Speaker in Maharashtra? 

Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. (PTI photo)

Amid claims and counterclaims on majority by the BJP and rival Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine, a key question has emerged: Who would be the Pro-Tem Speaker? 

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari would swear in the Pro-Tem Speaker, who in turn, would administer oath to the rest of the members of the 14th Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. "The seniormost member should be the Pro Tem Speaker," senior Congressman and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said. 

By convention, the seniormost MLA is made the Pro Tem Speaker, however, in Maharashtra, there has been a departure. In 2014, the 13th Vidhan Sabha, the seniormost member was Ganpatrao Deshmukh of Peasants and Workers Party, a nine-time MLA from Sangole in Solapur district.  However,  because of health issues, he declined, so the second seniormost Jiva Pandu Gavit, the seven-time CPI(M) MLA conducted the oath of members. 

In 2019 polls, Deshmukh, now 93, did not contest, while Gavit lost the elections form Kalvan. 

In the current Assembly,  state Congress President Balasaheb Thorat,  the MLA from Sangamner in Ahmednagar district, is the seniormost with eight terms. But since there has been a departure, it could be someone else as well.

Rebel NCP MLA Ajit Pawar is a seven-time MLA from Baramati. Other seven term MLAs are Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse-Patil (both NCP), Babanrao Pachpute and Kalidas Kolambkar (both BJP) and KC Padvi (Congress). Incidentally, Patil has replaced Pawar as NCP's legislature party leader.

The six-time MLAs are Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Haribhau Bagade (both BJP) and Chhagan Bhujbal of NCP. In fact, Walse-Patil and Bagade has been former Speakers of the 12th and 13th Assemblies.

The Vidhan Bhavan secretariat will send a recommendation of few names to Governor, who will pick one. "The BJP is keen on Pachpute or Bagade," an informed source said.

In 2018, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala appointed BJP leader K G Bopaiah as the Pro-Tem Speaker but Congress’s R V Deshpande was the seniormost MLA.

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