Legislators swooped down on Thackeray residence, Matoshree, on Tuesday in the hopes of meeting Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. Their purpose: To lobby for a place in the ‘lucky 12’, who will hopefully be sworn in as ministers soon. Uddhav, sources said, avoided the crowd on the ground floor, and stayed put on the second floor where he lives.
A reluctant Uddhav has been forced to make the decision to join the government and play second fiddle to the BJP. He was left with no choice with several Sena legislators ready to cross over to the BJP if Uddhav chose to sit in the Opposition. Also, after breaking off from the BJP, Uddhav would have had to give up claim to the party’s only ministerial berth at the Centre. Another issue bothering Uddhav is how the Sena is going to position itself in the BMC elections scheduled for 2017.
But now that he has almost agreed to join the government, he is left with the Herculean task of distributing the 12 seats — five Cabinet and seven minister of state seats — among his legislators. Of the five cabinet posts, three may go to members of the legislative council and two to legislative Assembly members. The other seven posts will be for people from other regions to make it seem like an equal distribution.
The frontrunners for the Cabinet posts — Diwakar Raote, Neelam Gorhe and Ramdas Kadam in the council and Subhash Desai who lost the assembly polls is sure to get a cabinet position, for which they will need to reinstate him into the legislative council. Leader of Opposition Eknath Shinde and MLA Ravindra Waikar are likely names for the other two berths.
“This has upset our supporters. Uddhavji should ensure people who have got elected get more representation. Otherwise what is the use of spending so much money if the elections are not valued,” a legislator from Konkan said.
Political expert Prakash Bal felt Uddhav is taking a wrong decision. “Before the polls, Uddhav took a position that even Bal Thackeray did not dare to by openly challenging the BJP. He questioned why Modi couldn’t get power in Odisha, Tamil Nadu and why he was trying to get Maharashtra. This hurt Modi. He should have continued with this aggressiveness. He had the potential to damage the BJP. He is stuck between sainiks who want to be in power and are ready to defect,” Bal said.