Disquiet in BJP over induction of ‘tainted’ MLAs in Maharashtra cabinet

Updated on Aug 11, 2022 05:01 AM IST

Sources close to the negotiations over cabinet formation have revealed that the inclusion of Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar, both from the Shinde camp, became a big bone of contention between the CM and his deputy.

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and the newly-sworn in ceremony of the state cabinet held at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. (Photo by Satish Bate/Hindustan Times)
Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and the newly-sworn in ceremony of the state cabinet held at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. (Photo by Satish Bate/Hindustan Times)
By, Mumbai

A day after the swearing in of 18 ministers in the Maharashtra cabinet, details have emerged of behind-the-scene tussle between the two allies in government.

Sources close to the negotiations over cabinet formation have revealed that the inclusion of Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar, both from the Shinde camp, became a big bone of contention between the CM and his deputy.

While the BJP did not want to start a fresh term in office with any tainted ministers, Shinde reportedly expressed his helplessness, saying both MLAs had threatened extreme measures if they were not inducted in the council of ministers.

On the face of it, the Shinde-BJP coalition had 40 days to finalise names of ministers, sources say some of the names were added almost at the ninth hour. All the changes were made in the ministers from the Shinde camp. Two meetings held ahead of the expansion witnessed especially heated arguments, disclosed one of the rebel leaders who did not make the cut.

“Names of MLAs like Sanjay Shirsat were dropped at the last moment to make way for Sattar. At a meeting held till late in the night on Monday at chief minister Eknath Shinde’s bungalow, Sattar told Eknath Shinde that he would take ‘extreme steps’ if he was not inducted in the cabinet,” says the Shinde camp leader, requesting anonymity. “He told Shinde that false charges were being levelled against his children in the TET exam scam to keep him out of the cabinet.”

Likewise, Rathod too reminded the leadership that he had joined the rebel faction only because of the assurance given to him about a ministership. Following Monday’s late meeting, another hurried meeting was held at Sahyadri guest house, barely an hour before the swearing in, in which Eknath Shinde was heard pacifying certain rebel Sena MLAs that they would be accommodated in the cabinet when it was next expanded.

The BJP had been exerting pressure on Shinde to keep Rathod out as it was they who had raised the decibel levels and campaigned to get his name included in the FIR in the suicide of a TikTok star in Pune. Rathod had stepped down from the previous MVA cabinet after the allegations surfaced against him and went to court to clear his name. He has not been named in the FIR so far. But his induction would still reflect poorly if they were to now sit in cabinet with him, said a former minister in the earlier Fadnavis government who is also a member of the party’s core committee in the state. “The Rathod case is just a year old and the party had taken the credit for taking it to the logical end by giving the deceased girl some due process and getting the minister to resign,” he said.

“Similarly, the allegations levelled against Sattar’s family are serious in nature. We tried to convince Shinde but he was under pressure and had to bow down to them,” said the top BJP leader. Though a couple of ministers inducted from BJP’s quota too had cases pending against them, the leader conceded, “but they are old and have lost the recall value,” he added.

Sources say BJP leader Chitra Wagh’s video statement soon after Rathod’s induction had the support of the party’s leadership in the state. Wagh had termed Rathod’s elevation as minister as unfortunate and she has vowed to continue her fight against Rathod. BJP leaders claim that this statement helped them to create a distance from Rathod, and to project that his inclusion was the Shinde camp’s internal decision.

Another BJP leader also disclosed that the party had also expressed its disappointment to CM Shinde over the inclusion in the cabinet of Deepak Kesarkar, Shinde camp’s spokesperson, who had recently criticized union minister Narayan Rane and his family for creating a rift between them and Uddhav Thackeray. The issue was not pushed, said the BJP leader because the very next day Kesarkar had said that he no longer talk about Narayan Rane.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Surendra P Gangan is Senior Assistant Editor with political bureau of Hindustan Times’ Mumbai Edition. He covers state politics and Maharashtra government’s administrative stories. Reports on the developments in finances, agriculture, social sectors among others.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, December 09, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals