After the cabinet expansion by the Modi government, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will induct 9-10 new faces at a function to be held in Mantralaya on Friday morning. Besides naming five or six BJP legislators, Fadnavis is expected to give at least two more berths to its partner Shiv Sena while one legislator from two smaller allies will take oath.
Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao will administer the oath of office and secrecy to new ministers.
For the BJP, Western Vidarbha is set to get at least two more ministers: Madan Yerawar from Yavatmal and one of the three legislators from Buldhana — Pandurang Phundkar, Sanjay Kute and Chainsukh Sancheti — will be sworn in. Sambhaji Nilangekar from Nanded in Marathwada, Jaykumar Rawal from Dhule and Suresh Khade from Western Maharashtra are tipped to bag portfolios. Haribhau Jawale from Jalgaon in North Maharashtra and Prashant Thakur from Raigad are also in the fray.
Yerawar may be inducted as minister. Minister of state for home Ram Shinde, who is from the Dhanagar (shepherd) community, is likely to be elevated as cabinet minister. By his elevation, the BJP will attempt the pacify the community, which is upset because of the government’s failure to fulfil its reservation promise ahead of the assembly elections, said a BJP party functionary.
Of the new ministers swearing in, two to three are likely to get the cabinet berth, while remaining will be the junior ministers.
The 20-month-old Fadnavis government is running the administration at its two-third strength because it could not implement its expansion plan for various reasons. After the sudden expulsion of one of the senior-most ministers, Eknath Khadse, over corruption charges last month, an expansion has become inevitable because 10 portfolios handled by him are temporarily with Fadnavis. The expansion come days before Fadnavis begins his four-day Russia tour on July 10.
The Fadnavis government, which is running the show with 19 ministers and 10 junior ministers, has 14 more berths to fill. To avert unrest among the aspirants, the BJP will choose to keep two to three berths vacant and induct five to six legislators. The Shiv Sena has two ministers of state berths, while two smaller allies have been given one seat each. Sadabhau Khot of Swabhimani Paksha and Mahadev Jankar of Rashtriya Samaj Paksha will be inducted as ministers of state. The Sena is also exploring the possibility of one more cabinet berth in the state after being snubbed by the Modi government.
Sources in the Shiv Sena said it was going to wait for an official word from Fadnavis over the expansion. Party sources said there was no decision yet on who its final nominees for the posts will be. However, sources in the Sena said the party will try and give adequate representation to different regions from the state. “We have to ensure Northern Maharashtra and Marathwada are represented in the cabinet, along with Western Maharashtra as well,” said a party MP.
Other contenders for ministerial posts are Gulabrao Patil, the Sena strongman from Jalgaon, Jalna MLA Arjun Khotkar, Sujit Minchekar from Kolhapur and MLC Neelam Gorhe.
NEW SWEARING-IN VENUE
The swearing in event will take place at the newly constructed atrium in Mantralaya. Earlier, the oath-taking ceremonies of the Fadnavis government had taken place at Wankhede stadium and Vidhan Bhavan in November and December 2014.