Three time Shiv Sena MLA Vijay Auti was Friday unanimously elected Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
Earlier, Harshvardhan Sakpal of the Congress and Independent legislator Bacchu Kadu withdrew their nomination papers.
The announcement of the election was made by Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil escorted Auti to the seat of the Deputy Speaker which is next to that of the Leader of Opposition.
Fadnavis described Auti as a leader rooted to the ground who enjoys unstinted support from his constituents in Parner Assembly seat in Ahmednagar district.
The NCP’s Ajit Pawar said the post was lying vacant for four years and the appointment indicates the BJP and Shiv Sena have patched up and an alliance between the two saffron parties was a possibility.
Pawar said, as per tradition, the deputy speaker’s post goes to the opposition but the tradition was not followed by the Congress-NCP government either.
“We thought Fadnavis would revert to the tradition,” Pawar added.
Vikhe Patil, Ganpatrao Deshmukh (PWP), Water Conservation MInister Ram Shinde, who hails from Ahmednagar district, congratulated Auti on his election.
The 13th Assembly was the one without a Deputy Speaker for the longest time.
The post had been lying vacant since the BJP government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assumed office on October 31, 2014 and won the trust vote on November 12.
The Congress’ Vasant Purke was the last deputy speaker before 2014.
In 288-member House, the BJP is the largest party with 122 MLAs, followed by the Shiv Sena with 63, the Congress with 42 and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with 41.
During the Sena-BJP rule between 1995-99, Sharad Tasare of Congress held the post of Deputy Speaker.
Later, during the 15-year rule of the Congress-NCP, the speaker’s post was with the NCP while the Congress had its nominee on the Deputy speaker’s post.
Of the 22 deputy speakers so far, a majority were from the Congress party.
Gajananrao Garud, who served as deputy speaker between March 21, 1978 and April 5, 1979, was an Independent MLA.
Suryakant Dongre, who held the post between April 7, 1979 and June 9, 1980 belonged to the Republican Party of India (Khobragade group).
Kamalkishore Kadam (March 1, 1985 to June 22, 1986) was from the Congress (Socialist) which at the time was headed by current NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
Laxman Alias Anna Joshi, who was the deputy speaker from October 20, 1990 and July 3, 1991, was from the BJP while Moreshwar Termude (July 19, 1991 to March 11, 1995) was from the Janata Party.
Before the state of Maharashtra came into existence in 1960, there were five deputy speakers of the Legislative Assembly of Bombay Province, which later came to be known as the bilingual Bombay State.
The Congress’ Shanmugappa Angadi was deputy speaker of the Assembly of Bombay Province from 1946 to 1952.
Deendayal Gupta, who was the deputy speaker of the bilingual state from June 20, 1957 to April 30, 1960, went on to become the first deputy speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on May 1, 1960.
He continued on the post till March 3, 1962.