Sena MP Anil Desai got an emergency call from Matoshree, the Thackeray residence, on Sunday, asking him to go to New Delhi for the Union cabinet’s swearing-in ceremony.
Till late on Saturday night, Desai said he would not be going to the Capital, and that talks between the Sena and the BJP had not materialised till then.
According to Sena sources, BJP president Amit Shah spoke to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray late on Saturday late night, and in course of the conversation, promised two cabinet berths to the Sena and one minister-of-state berth.
What seemed like a patch-up after MP Anil Desai left for Delhi on Sunday morning with his wife, took a complete turn, when Thackeray asked Desai to return from the airport, without attending the ceremony. Later in the evening, Thackeray confirmed his instructions to Desai.
Many reasons are being cited for the boycott on Sunday.
First, BJP leaders reportedly told the Sena that Desai would be sworn in as a minister of state (MoS), instead of a Cabinet minister, and that the Sena would have another MoS in the next six months.
What really angered the Sena chief, however, was the induction of former Sena MP Suresh Prabhu into the state Cabinet. The BJP had been told not to count Prabhu in Sena’s quota, but the ruling party went ahead, without the Thackeray’s consent. Even Prabhu’s defection to the BJP was kept a secret. This, according to sources, is what hurt Thackeray the most.
BJP’s refusal to spell out its plan for the state alliance, and Sena’s demand for at least the home ministry and 11 other ministries further fuelled the fire. The Sena leadership had linked the Union Cabinet expansion to its negotiations with the BJP for a power-sharing formula to support the latter’s government in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai wore a tired look as he emerged from Mumbai airport, only to be surrounded by Shiv Sainiks who gave him a celebratory welcome. “I went there only to keep Uddhavji’s word. We wanted to respect their invite. But when we did not hear anything from them, there was no point in waiting further,” said Desai told HT.