Senior BJP MLA Nimaben Acharya is all set to become the first woman Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly as the opposition Congress has supported her nomination for the post. She is likely to be elected unopposed to the post when the Assembly meets for two days on September 27 and 28 for the monsoon session. The speaker’s post fell vacant after Rajendra Trivedi resigned on September 16 and joined the new state cabinet of Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel. Trivedi is now Revenue as well as Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the BJP government.
Ahead of the session, the Assembly secretariat had invited nominations for the election of new speaker and deputy speaker. On Friday, Trivedi along with the party’s chief whip Pankaj Desai presented the nomination papers of Acharya for the post of speaker and that of Jetha Bharwad for the post of deputy Speaker.
“The Assembly secretary has checked and accepted the nomination papers of both Nimaben and Jetha Bharwad. Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani has also supported Nimaben’s nomination for the post,” Trivedi told repoters in Gandhinagar. However, although the Congress has agreed to support Acharya’s nomination, the party has decided to field their own candidate for the post of deputy Speaker citing the “past tradition” of the Assembly.
“As per the tradition, the post of deputy speaker was always given to the opposition. When Congress was in power, we followed it and gave this post to the opposition. But the BJP never respected this tradition ever since it came to power in Gujarat,” Dhanani told reporters. “While we support Acharya for the post of speaker, we have decided to field our senior MLA Anil Joshiara, who is a tribal and a qualified doctor, for the post of deputy speaker,” the Congress leader added.
Now, an election for the post of deputy speaker is imminent when the House meets on September 27. However, the numbers are not in favour of Congress. In the 182-member Assembly, Congress’ strength is just 65, while the BJP enjoys majority with 112 MLAs.