From Sena to NCP to BJP, new Speaker’s political journey | Mumbai news

MumbaiOn Sunday, 45-year-old Rahul Narwekar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was elected as the speaker of the Maharashtra legislative assembly. Narwekar, who has served a stint in the upper house, and is a first-time MLA from Colaba, also has a link with the opposition parties, the Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Narwekar, who holds a BCom and an LLB degree, is married to Sarojini, daughter of NCP leader and legislative council chairperson Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar. The Naik Nimbalkars are one of the prominent royal families in Maharashtra. An advocate by profession and the son of former corporator Suresh Narwekar, he was also associated with the Shiv Sena. In 2010, when Aaditya Thackeray was launched in politics as the chief of the Yuva Sena, it was Narwekar who showed him the ropes. As one of the few Shiv Sena leaders eloquent in English, Narwekar was also the spokesperson of the Yuva Sena. Narwekar also helped Aaditya study for his law degree from KC Law College and acted as a sounding board for him.

However, despite his close ties with the Thackeray scion, Narwekar was said to be at the receiving end of Sena’s internal politics. He had been unsuccessfully fielded by the Sena for the Rajya Sabha elections in 2009. In 2014, he abruptly withdrew as a Shiv Sena nominee for the legislative council polls. Narwekar is said to have realised that he may have been fighting a losing battle, after speculations that some leaders were trying to ensure his defeat.

Upset at the attempts of some party leaders to clip his wings, Narwekar joined the NCP and contested the Lok Sabha elections from the Maval constituency, in a move that is said to have upset Aaditya. He however lost to Shrirang ‘Appa’ Barne of the Shiv Sena in the Narendra Modi-wave, but as per an agreement with the NCP, was nominated to the legislative council later.

Narwekar joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the eve of the 2019 assembly elections and defeated Ashok ‘Bhai’ Jagtap of the Congress from Colaba. Incidentally, Narwekar had unsuccessfully contested the polls from the constituency in 2004 and in 2019, replaced BJP veteran Raj Purohit.

Though as per convention, it is senior and experienced legislators who are elected as speaker, the choice of Narwekar may have been driven by his background in law. A legal battle between the Shiv Sena and the splinter Eknath Shinde group may be on the cards over which one of them is the “real” Shiv Sena.

Congratulating Narwekar after his election as Speaker, Aaditya mentioned their association. “I remember those days of yore, when I came to you for tuitions before the law exams as a friend,” he said, reminiscing how they also used to discuss national politics.

Aaditya said he and Narwekar used to banter even when they met in the legislature’s lobby. “When you went on television as a panelist for the Shiv Sena, NCP or BJP, we used to tease you that you have put on weight. Then, you used to retort that the camera was from the lower angle, making it seem so,” said Aaditya, adding: “Now that you are sitting on the top (in the speaker’s chair), it really seems you have gained weight in all respects.”

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