Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Rahul Narvekar was elected as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly on Sunday. He was contesting against Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Salvi, who was nominated by the party’s faction led by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Narvekar was nominated by the group led by Eknath Shinde, who took oath as the chief minister on Thursday.

Narvekar received 164 votes in support, while 107 MLAs voted against him in the 288-member Assembly, reported ANI. Samajwadi Party and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MLAs abstained from voting.

The Speaker’s post had been lying vacant since the Congress’ Nana Patole quit in February 2021 to become the chief of the party’s state unit. Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal had been carrying out the Speaker’s functions since then.

The election was crucial for the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction as the Speaker can dismiss disqualification proceedings initiated by Zirwal against 16 rebel MLAs and Shinde, legal experts had told NDTV.

Both factions had issued whips directing their MLAs to vote for their respective candidates, PTI reported. On Saturday, Shinde said that the whip issued by the Thackeray-led faction was not applicable to his group as it had the support of more than two-thirds of party legislators, the Hindustan Times reported.

Ahead of the vote, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar urged MLAs to vote “as per their conscience” and claimed that no whip could be implemented in the election of the Speaker, ANI reported. “We have an alliance with Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena [headed by Shinde],” he added.

Meanwhile, the Shinde-led faction will face a floor test on July 4 to prove its majority in the House.

Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra following his revolt against his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray. Shinde had claimed the support of 39 of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs and 10 Independent legislators, reducing the Thackeray-led faction of the party to a minority in the Assembly.

The revolt had pushed the state into a crisis. Subsequently, the BJP demanded Thackeray face a vote of confidence. On Wednesday, Thackeray had resigned after the Supreme Court had rejected the Shiv Sena’s plea against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision asking his government to face a floor test to prove its majority in the state Assembly.

The Supreme Court will hear the plea filed by Shiv Sena Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu seeking suspension of Shinde and 15 other rebel MLAs from the state Assembly on July 11.

Prabhu’s plea is an interlocutory application in the pleas filed by the rebel MLAs challenging their disqualification proceedings initiated by the deputy Speaker last week.

Shinde had filed the petition challenging Zirwal’s decision to recognise Ajay Choudhary as the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party instead of him. The court had granted the rebel MLAs interim relief from disqualification till July 12.