Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar has said he would not allow passage of bills amid disruptions in the House as it would mean betraying the mandate of the people.
In a freewheeling interview to PTI, Narwekar also exuded confidence about the smooth functioning of the state assembly despite a bitter split in the Shiv Sena ranks, contending that the disruptions in the Maharashtra House were “mild” when compared with other states.
“I do not think so,” Narwekar, a first-term BJP MLA from Colaba in south Mumbai, said, when asked whether the rebellion in the Shiv Sena ranks will have any bearing on the assembly session beginning July 25.
Narwekar was in the national capital to attend a meeting of presiding officers of state assemblies convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday.
“The recent session of the assembly witnessed debates for nearly nine hours. Very less time was lost to disruptions. I received the cooperation of all the floor leaders and MLAs. Even in the upcoming session, members will be able to raise issues as per the rules and procedures of the assembly,” he said.
Narwekar was elected Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly after Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde was sworn in as chief minister with the support of the BJP.
The post of the Speaker was vacant since the resignation of Nana Patole in February last year.
NCP leader and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly Narhari Zirwal was officiating as the Speaker of the House in the interim period.
Uddhav Thackeray, who became the chief minister with the support of the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress after the 2019 assembly elections, had to step down from the post on June 29 following a rebellion in the Shiv Sena ranks.
The Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena had submitted notices to the Speaker seeking disqualification of 16 out of the 39 MLAs who had joined the Eknath Shinde-led rebellion.
Besides the 39 Shiv Sena MLAs, 10 legislators from smaller outfits and Independents too had backed the rebellion led by Shinde which culminated in the ouster of the Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government.
“The issue of disqualification of MLAs is pending with the office of the Speaker of the Assembly. A decision on it will be taken as per the provisions of the Constitution. This will not have any impact on the proceedings of the House,” Narwekar said.
Asked about his top priorities as Speaker, Narwekar said he would not allow passage of bills in a din in the House.
“My top priority will be to ensure passage of bills after proper discussion and debate. Passing bills in din would be a betrayal of the mandate of the people. I will not allow passage of bills without any discussion,” he said.
Narwekar said members often complain about not getting enough time to raise issues and he would ensure that they get adequate time to speak in the House.
“Making the functioning of the House paperless and introducing new technologies to the assembly also ranks high among my priorities,” he said.
Narwekar said he would also strive to make arrangements for convening of the assembly session in virtual mode in case Covid-like situations re-emerge.