During his media interaction at Maharashtra Sadan, the state guest house in New Delhi, Fadnavis said, “The Centre has already given its go-ahead for a cabinet expansion. I will first talk to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and then elaborate on my plan.”
Of the total 42 ministerial berths, currently there are only 30 ministers in the cabinet. Of the 30, BJP has 20 ministers and the Sena, 10 ministers.
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There is a scope to fill up 12 berths, of which two will be given to the Shiv Sena and 10 will remain with the BJP. The BJP may include smaller alliance partners supporting the government — such as the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, the Rashtriya Samaj Party, the RPI and the Shiv Sangram — as part of the 10 and keep the remaining six berths for its own party candidates. Two seats, however, might be kept vacant for future.
An overall ministerial performance audit will be undertaken in March 2017 which will weed out non-performers and award those who have done well.
Responding to claims by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray that Union ministers from the BJP are paying no heed to the drought situation, Fadnavis said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Power Minister Piyush Goyal have regularly been in touch with him. “The railway minister provided us with the trains for supplying water to drought-hit Latur in record time. The Centre is providing all necessary help.”
Elaborating on the measures the state government is taking to bring relief in the drought-hit region, the chief minister said that the government is firm on not allowing new sugar mills in Marathwada. “We have to encourage farmers to look for alternative crops. We are also making drip irrigation compulsory for sugarcane cultivation.”