The proposed expansion of the state cabinet has been put on hold until January or February, owing to the tussle between the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena combine, mainly stemming from the Sena’s demand for cabinet berths.
Shiv Sena leader and industries minister Subhash Desai met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at his official bungalow on Saturday. Sources close to Desai, however, denied any discussion related to the expansion took place during this meeting. CMO sources, meanwhile, said the expansion was not possible for at least another three weeks, as it has never happened during a state legislature session.
“The Shiv Sena has been adamant about getting an additional cabinet berth and the cooperation department for its senior minister Diwakar Raote, who currently heads the transport department. Though in principle, our state leadership agreed, the party high command is not keen on parting with the department, as this can keep the pressure on the Nationalist Congress Party in terms of taking action against scams in cooperative societies,” said a BJP minister, not wishing to be named.
On its part, the Sena is upset over the way the government has handled the desilting scam in the BMC and the suicide case of developer Suraj Parmar. In both cases, the Sena thinks strict action was taken just to harass the party.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is visiting New Delhi next week, is expected to meet PM Narendra Modi or BJP chief Amit Shah. “Thackeray will attend the wedding or reception of Union minister Arun Jaitley’s daughter. While he is not very keen, if a meeting takes place, issues related to the state may be discussed,” said a Sena source.
The smaller allies — Mahadev Jankar of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Sadabhau Khot of Swabhimani Shetkar Sanghatana — are reportedly happy with the posts given to them. The expansion, however, is not likely to happen immediately after the winter session. “The ministers to be inducted from the two smaller parties will have to get elected to upper house within six months of swearing in,” a leader said.