Maharashtra Speaker survives legal scrutiny, public glare | Mumbai News – Times of India

MUMBAI: Right since his election as assembly speaker in July 2022, Rahul Narwekar has been in the spotlight over the multiple petitions for disqualification of Shiv Sena MLAs filed before him. While he was at the receiving end of the SC’s displeasure on more than a few occasions for deferring his decision on the petitions and airing his views repeatedly on the issue in the media, Narwekar has managed to survive the court’s scrutiny and the glare of public opinion by sticking to the deadline given to him.
An advocate by training, the 46-year-old MLA from Colaba is the youngest Speaker in the history of the state assembly.While there were senior leaders in conten-tion for the job, it was Devendra Fadnavis who pushed for Narwekar. For someone who switched to BJP just before the 2019 state assembly polls, his handling of the disqualification case and his conduct as Speaker has earned him brownie points within the party. Narwekar, though a first time MLA in BJP, is now seen as someone with legal acumen, articulate in his reasoning and an asset to the party in tough situations.
“Many in BJP and outside were surprised when Narwekar was picked to become Speaker. Many saw him as too young and a newbie in BJP. But almost two years later, he has proven to be a perfect fit,” said a political observer.
The opposition has hit out at Narwekar, accusing him of bias and questioning his impartiality as a Speaker, but he could be rewarded with a Lok Sabha ticket from South Mumbai. However, given the sympathy generated for Sena (UBT) since the party’s split and the Thackeray faction’s severe criticism of his role, Narwekar may find his electoral prospects dented, especially among working class voters aligned to Shiv Sena. Delay in deciding on the crucial question of disqualification may hurt him as well, political observers said.
His move to hold marathon hearings and then live-stream the pronouncement of the order may have helped change the narrative that he was favouring the Shinde faction though, said a section of observers. “Narwekar is seen as someone who delayed proceedings, but he’s hearing pleas on the disqualification of over 80 MLAs from four factions of Sena and NCP. He has not just defended his stand on legal grounds but countered political barbs,” said an observer.

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