Fadnavis, however, denied speculation that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat would be mediating the talks to break the deadlock.
“Yes, the Cabinet expansion will take place next week. Talks with the Shiv Sena still possible,” the CM said.
The BJP has put onus to take a formal decision to join the government to the Sena leadership. While remaining non-committal about the Sena’s role, the BJP has decided to induct its own members in the Cabinet.
Ten new ministers would likely join the government. The state government can induct 42 ministers.
The BJP is still keeping at least 11 Cabinet berths on hold as it has indicated that if the Sena were to join the government, the party would consider it giving one-third representation. However, the BJP is not in favour of considering the post of Home Minister or Deputy Chief Minister.
Senior Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam said, “ I would certainly be happy if the BJP and the Sena work together.” Minister for Education Vinod Tawde said, “The BJP has always maintained a cordial relations with the Sena.”
A source in the BJP disclosed, “After the vote trust, we have six months reprieve. The fact remains that we had not taken the support of the NCP during the confidence motion.”
The source said, “The BJP relying on the NCP’s support has affected its image… Moreso, as Fadnavis had led an aggressive poll campaign against corruption during the previous Congress-NCP government.”
At an internal meeting, the BJP strategists have a plan ready to refurbish its image. To begin with, the party would go to the masses to clarify that the BJP has not taken support from the NCP during the trust vote. The party would also reassure through its action that the government is determined to act against corruption of the former ministers.
Sensing aggression within the BJP, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar indicated, “We wonder how the minority government of the BJP will last full term.” A senior BJP functionary said, “A lot of things will become clear when the state government will start cracking the whip against the corruption of the previous government. Those who are questioning our credentials will change their opinions.”