Supreme Court has ordered the floor test in Maharashtra to be conducted on Wednesday. During the hearing, a bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna said that the vote by MLAs during the floor test will be through the open ballot and not through a secret ballot. The apex court further ruled that the Protem Speaker will conduct the floor test. With the Supreme Court ordering a floor test, an important question that arose is - who will be the Protem Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly?
Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari will appoint and swear-in the Protem Speaker. The Protem Speaker will administer the oath of office to all the newly-elected MLAs of the 14th Legislative Assembly. It is to be noted that the seniormost MLA will be appointed a Protem Speaker.
However, this time the selection of Protem Speaker speaker would be critical as the BJP and the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress are engaged in a bitter power struggle amid rival claims of support of majority MLAs, with both sides claiming 173 and 162 respectively, far beyond the total strength of the 288-member Assembly.
As for the current Maharashtra assembly is concerned, state Congress President Balasaheb Thorat, a legislator elected from Sangamner (Ahmednagar), is the seniormost MLA with eight terms behind him. Other frontrunners are BJP’s Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Kalidas Nilkanth Kolambkar, Babanrao Pachpute, Congress’ KC Padvi, and NCP’s Dilip Walse-Patil.
Interestingly, the Governor has the power to appoint the Pro-tem Speaker after seeking recommendations from the chief minister, who right now is Devendra Fadnavis.