The N Kiran Kumar Reddy-led government in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday indirectly proved its majority in the House when Congress nominee Nandendla Manohar was elected the Speaker.
In a division of votes, sought by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party, Manohar got 158 votes in a House of 294 while TDP nominee K E Krishnamurthy got only 90 votes.
There was anxiety in the Congress party that the supporters of YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy among the Congress legislators might play spoilsport in the numbers game. But while some of them abstained from voting, others extended their support to Manohar.
YS Vijayalakshmi, the lone member of legislative assembly of YSR Congress, abstained from voting. As many as 25 Congress MLAs abstained from voting; 17 members of Praja Rajyam Party and seven members of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen voted in support of Manohar.
Initially, Manohar was elected as the speaker by voice vote. But after the Telugu Desam Party's demand, protem speaker JC Diwakar Reddy ordered a division of votes.
D Manohar, 47, son of former chief minister Nandendla Bhaskar Rao, represents Tenali constituency of Guntur district in the state assembly.
Manohar, who has been elected to the legislative assembly twice, was elected as the deputy speaker after the 2009 elections. He was running the House after the post of the speaker fell vacant earlier this year after N Kiran Kumar Reddy became the chief minister.
After he was formally declared elected, Manohar was escorted to the Chair by Reddy, Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu and floor leaders of other parties.
Congratulating Manohar on becoming the Speaker of the House, the chief minister said that both he and Manohar were childhood friends, school and college mates.
"While I played cricket, he played tennis," he said.
"I am confident that you will bring glory to this post," said Reddy.
Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu also congratulated Manohar on becoming the Speaker at a young age and hoped that he will take care of the opposition members.
Later in the day, Congress leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka was elected as the deputy speaker of the assembly. Vikramarka, who hails from a scheduled caste, was elected with the support of 164 members while his opponent Suddala Devaiah of the TDP polled 88 votes.
Bhatti Vikramarka represents Madhira constituency in Khammam district and is the son of former Pradesh Congress Committee president Mallu Ravi. Till now he served as the government chief whip.
The election to the posts of speaker and deputy speaker had assumed significance because of the political uncertainty in the state, spurned by the revolt of YS Jaganmohan Reddy and his claim that he had enough strength to bring down the Congress government in the state.
The uncertainty was further fuelled on Friday when the YSR Congress meeting was attended by 21 Congress legislators.
The next major challenge for Reddy would be to face the no confidence motion of the Telugu Desam Party, for which the party gave a fresh notice on Saturday.