By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jul 3 (IANS): Mumbai lawyer and first-time legislator, Rahul Narwekar, 45, has been elected as the youngest Speaker of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and also becomes the youngest ever in India to hold this august Constitutional post, here on Sunday.
A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Colaba, Narwekar was elected to the high office at a Special Assembly Session, trouncing his sole Maha Vikas Aghadi-backed Shiv Sena nominee Rajan Salvi.
Interestingly, Narwekar is married to Sarojini, the daughter of Nationalist Congress Party's Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar, who is the Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, pointing out at the happy familial coincidence, said that now the 'relation between the Upper House and Lower House is akin to a father-in-law and son-in-law', amid cheers, as the new Speaker smiled.
However, Narwekar had served as a Governor Nominated MLC (Upper House) from 2016 before becoming MLA in 2019.
Hailing from a political family, the soft-spoken but sharp legal eagle Narwekar started his career with the Shiv Sena around late-1990s, but felt stifled due to lack of leadership opportunities.
After he was denied a ticket to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he quit the Sena in a huff and threw his lot with the NCP, where his father-in-law was already a senior leader.
The NCP rewarded Narwekar with a ticket from Maval Lok Sabha constituency in 2014, but he came a distant third to Shiv Sena's winner Shrirang Barne and the runner-up PWP's Laxman Jagtap and was compensated as an MLC.
Ahead of the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, he hopped from the NCP to the BJP, which fielded him from Colaba in South Mumbai and secured his maiden victory to the Lower House.
Barely 31 months later, Narwekar scripted history to become the youngest legislator to be elected as the 16th Speaker (since 1960) and also is now the youngest ever lawmaker to occupy the coveted top legislative post in the country.
His father, Suresh Narwekar was a BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation Municipal Corporator, his brother Makarand Narwekar is a two-term independent Municipal Corporator, and his sister-in-law Harshita Narwekar is also a BJP Municipal Corporator.
Shortly after his election was declared formally by the Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Congress President Nana Patole, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, and other senior Members escorted Narwekar to the Speaker's 'hot seat' from where he would crack his Constitutional whip to run the House in order and legislative decorum.
Hailing Narwekar, top leaders of various parties expressed hopes that he would function in a judicious and impartial manner and carry forward the glorious traditions of the state Speakers, some of whom have gone ahead to many higher offices in public life.
Usually, the post of Speaker is held by senior legislators with years of experience and multiple tenures in the Lower House of Assemblies or Parliament, but a first-time lawmaker Narwekar's elevation to the plum post has set a new trend in the country.