With senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Eknath Khadse’s ouster from the Maharashtra cabinet and his eight portfolios up for grabs, a long-pending reshuffle and expansion of ministries is likely next week.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is expected to undertake the rejig of his team after the two-day meeting of the BJP state executive in Pune on June 18-19.
“The reshuffle is likely next week, post state executive [meet], so that the new ministers get time to get acquainted with their departments ahead of the monsoon session of the state legislature that starts on June 12,” said a party functionary. “There will be fresh faces; one or two junior ministers may get promotion. In all, around five to six BJP ministers will get inducted.”
The Fadnavis cabinet has 29 ministers and this figure cannot exceed 42 ministers, according to guidelines. The party is expected to fill in promised berths to its pre-poll allies, including one junior ministerial berth each to the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.
Its main ally turned enemy, Shiv Sena, is keen on getting one cabinet portfolio and two junior ministerial berths but the BJP is unlikely to concede to its demand, especially after the former’s aggressive posturing against the BJP government at the centre and the state. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut recently referred to the BJP central and state governments as worse than the Nizam rule.
Sources said Fadnavis has a preliminary list of new ministers ready and it will be finalised after consultations with the party’s top brass in Delhi.
It is widely expected that co-operation minister Chandrakant Patil may get the important revenue portfolio, unless Fadnavis decides to keep it with himself. Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, the current No 2 in the state cabinet, is learnt to have refused to take the responsibility. He may instead take additional charge of the agriculture portfolio. It is also learnt that state minister for home (rural) Ram Shinde, also an backward class leader, is up for a promotion.