Disappointed with allocation of the heavy industries portfolio on Tuesday, the Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete refused to take charge of the ministry.
The Sena, it is learnt, is eyeing a 'heavier' portfolio like the power ministry.
After refusing to attend office during the day, Geete, however, went for the cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, signalling some rapprochement between the BJP and its biggest ally in Maharashtra.
Geete later said, “We have sought a different portfolio. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will decide whether to accept the heavy industries portfolio.”
Sena chief Thackeray, who attended Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony on Monday, spent the day in Delhi and is believed to have spoken to some senior BJP leaders.
Sources close to Geete told HT that he is the lone cabinet representative of the party which is the biggest partner of the BJP with 18 seats. “Maharashtra is also an election-going state with assembly polls due in October. The Shiv Sena deserves a much better portfolio,” the source said.
Law and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who briefed the media on the Modi government’s first cabinet meeting, refused to speak on the matter. “I will not answer questions on political issues,” he said.
Sena sources pointed out that in the earlier NDA government, the power ministry was with the Shiv Sena.
They also pointed out that the railway ministry had always been allotted to the biggest partner of the ruling alliance. “Nitish Kumar (JD-U), Mamata Banerjee (Trinamool), Lalu Prasad (RJD) had enjoyed the railway ministry on this count,” said a Sena leader.
The heavy industries minister's office in Nirman Bhawan wore a deserted look on Tuesday. A few staffers waited since early morning to receive the new minister and his team but they never came.
Senior officials were ready with a detailed briefing for the new minister.