After 15 long years and three elections, the Shiv Sena finally got a chance to be a part of the state government. On Friday, 10 of its legislators took oath — five Cabinet ministers and five ministers of state.
Each of the 10 legislators took the name of the late Sena chief Bal Thackeray and acknowledged party chief Uddhav Thackeray before they took their oath, publicly admitting their gratitude to the Thackeray family.
After all, out of the 63 Assembly legislators and over a dozen council members, only 10 made it to the coveted list.
There is talk among legislators who were left out about Uddhav’s choices because four out of the 10 cabinet slots were allotted to members of the Upper House, who did not contest the elections.
Also, six of 10 represent or stay in Mumbai and Thane, which makes the selection urban and Mumbai-centric and not a well-balanced one.
What is also surprising is that Sena, which is known for its strong women’s wing, has no woman representative on the list. Sena sources said a majority of ministers are Uddhav’s trusted aides, who have been rewarded for their loyalty.
Uddhav’s closest man and adviser, senior leader Subhash Desai, who lost the recent Assembly elections, has been allotted the industries ministry. One of the oldest Sena members, who was originally part of senior Thackeray’s team, he has remained loyal to the family and enjoys Uddhav’s confidence.
MLC Diwakar Raote, who is the also a senior member of the Sena, has been given a Cabinet berth and will be heading the transport department. A part of the late Bal Thackeray’s team, Raote helped Uddhav set the stage in Marathwada.
Legislator Dr Deepak Sawant, who helped Uddhav chart out his telemedicine project in the Sena’s vision document, has been allotted the public health department. Similarly, MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde, who has been with the party for over two decades, has held the Thane fort successfully for the Sena after leader Anand Dighe died.
It is said Uddhav’s choice to select Ramdas Kadam and Ravindra Waikar was so that the aggressive Sainiks can keep a check over the BJP. “Uddhav has to start delivering to earn goodwill for which he needs good experienced leaders to lead these portfolios. He had to take such decisions to keep his flock together,” political expert B Venkatesh Kumar said.