Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said he plans to expand his cabinet of ministers, even if ally Shiv Sena does not agree with it.
Fadnavis, who is on a two-day Delhi visit, said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) top brass -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah -- have given their nod for the expansion. “It will be mostly an expansion with one or two replacements. We will talk to the Shiv Sena on the issue in a couple of days. If they agree, it will be with them, otherwise without them. The Sena can do it [expansion] for their berths at a later stage,” he said.
The expansion for 10 to 12 berths at the end of 2015 was put on hold -- despite senior BJP ministers’ claims that they would go ahead with the exercise -- because the Sena could not finalise the names of the ministers to be inducted.
Smaller allies such as the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Republican Party of India (A) and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha are turning impatient, as they are likely to get one minister of state berth each. The BJP is likely to induct four ministers and two ministers of state, while the Sena has two vacant berths.
Fadnavis said the reshuffle cannot be based on the performance of the ministers as most of them are handling multiple portfolios. “Firstly, one-and-a-half-year is too short a period for evaluation. Also, most of the ministers are holding multiple portfolios. An evaluation-based reshuffle will be carried out in March 2017,” he said.
Ten municipal corporations, 26 district councils and more than 150 municipal councils and panchayats face elections over the next nine months till March 2017. By then, the government will have completed half its term and the ruling parties will have to pull their socks to perform better in the remaining period.