Weeks after squabbling over allocation of portfolios, the Shiv Sena on Friday formally joined the BJP government in Maharashtra led by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. The decision on allocation of portfolios was not taken till late Friday night.
Ten Shiv Sena ministers, including five of cabinet rank and five of minister of state rank, took oath in the first expansion of the Fadnavis ministry on Friday. Ten BJP ministers - five of cabinet rank and five of minister of state rank - were also inducted.
This expansion took the total strength of the ministry to 30, including the chief minister. Fadnavis was sworn in at the head of a 10-member ministry October 31.
This is the second time after the 1995 that a Sena-BJP government will be ruling the state.
While the BJP focused on the regional and social balance while inducting new ministers, the Sena chose to offer Mumbai and Thane more representation in the senior ranks. The BJP has two members in the upper House and the Sena has three senior members and one- Subhash Desai- who is not a member of either Houses.
In the recent assembly polls, Desai had lost to BJP's Vidya Thakur, already an MoS in Fadnavis' team. Sena hopes to get him elected to the legislative council within six months.
Governor CV Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy to all the 20 ministers at a ceremony held on the lawns of the Maharashtra Legislature building in Nariman Point.
Prominent among those who took oath as ministers included Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's trusted aides Subhash Desai and Deepak Sawant. Senior BJP legislators Girish Bapat and Girish Mahajan also took oath on Friday.
Cabinet ministers who took the oath were: Girish Bapat (BJP), Girish Mahajan (BJP), Chandrashekhar Bawankule (BJP), Babanrao Lonikar (BJP), Rajkumar Badole (BJP), Diwakar Raote (Shiv Sena), Subhash Desai (SS), Ramdas Kadam (SS), Eknath Shinde (SS) and Dr Deepak Sawant (SS).
Ministers of state sworn in were: Ram Shinde (BJP), Vijay Deshmukh (BJP), Raje Amrish Atram (BJP), Dr Ranjit Patil (BJP) and Pravin Pote (BJP), Dr. Ravindra Waikar (SS), Sanjay Rathod (Shiv Sena), Dada Bhuse (SS), Vijay Shivtare (SS) and Deepak Kesarkar (SS).
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray attended the swearing-in ceremony along with his family members and senior party leaders.
Earlier on Friday morning, Shiv Sena's Eknath Shinde tendered his resignation as Leader of Opposition as his party moved to the treasury benches.
Two more Sena ministers are expected to take oath during the next cabinet expansion, possibly after the winter session of the state legislature.
With the Sena joining the Fadnavis government, it will cross the majority mark of 145 seats in the assembly. The BJP has 121 MLAs and will get 63 seats from the Sena and the cross the magic figure comfortably.
However, BJP's allies- Republican Party of India (RPI), Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha - who had supported the party during the assembly elections, were unhappy for being left out of the government.
The BJP assured them that in the next few weeks there will be another cabinet expansion, in which about 8-10 legislators will be inducted in the government. "Smaller parties will be inducted in the next expansion that will take place soon," Fadnavis said after the oath ceremony on Friday.
Unlike their first government in 1995, this government does not have a deputy chief minister though the Sena, with 63 MLAs, had demanded the post in exchange of supporting the BJP's minority government. The BJP had rejected the demand and also refused to part with key portfolios to the Sena which has been sitting in the Opposition since November 10.
The Sena has been given lesser important departments such as public health, environment, industry, transport or excise and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, an undertaking of the PWD.
The Sena MOS, who took oath on Friday, will assist the ally's cabinet ministers. Fadnavis will split the clubbed portfolios kept with him and other ministers to the BJP's five newly inducted cabinet ministers.