Maharashtra is likely to be represented by at least five Cabinet ministers, including former BJP president Nitin Gadkari and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, in the Narendra Modi government in Delhi.
While Gadkari and Munde seem certain to get ministerial berths, the other probables for three slots are Jalna MP Raosaheb Danwe, Chandrapur MP Hansraj Ahir, Ahmednagar MP Dilip Gandhi, Dindori MP Harsihchandra Chavan, Mumbai North East MP Kirit Somaiya and national BJP treasurer Piyush Goyal.
On Saturday, Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis met Modi at Gujarat Bhawan in Delhi. This was the first formal meeting Fadnavis held with Modi after their party’s magnificent victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
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Maharashtra was second only to UP in electing BJP MPs. While the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won 42 of the total 48 LS seats in the state, BJP alone won 23.
According to a senior leader who was present at the meeting at Gujarat Bhawan, “The discussion between Modi and Fadnavis veered around Maharashtra BJP’s representation in the government at the Centre. Modi sought Fadnavis’s views on probable candidates and his recommendations.”
Sources close to Fadnavis said he recommended names of eight to nine candidates, factoring in different regions and caste-community composition in the state.
The cotton belt of Vidarbha region, which delivered 10 out of 10 Lok Sabha seats, is likely to get two Cabinet ministers. Apart from Gadkari (Nagpur seat), Hansraj Ahir, who exposed the coal scam at the Centre that led to a CBI probe, also figures high on the list of probables.
Because of the constraint on size of the overall Cabinet, there is a possibility that BJP will have to chose between senior MPs Dilip Gandhi and Harishchandra Chavan. Sources said both may not be able to make it to the Cabinet.
One berth for Sena, none for RPI
BJP’s old and trusted ally Shiv Sena may get at least one Cabinet berth, for which Raigad MP Anant Gite is the front-runner. Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athavale, who had been lobbying hard with BJP president Rajnath Singh, is unlikely to get any ministerial berth. The RPI lost in Satara, the lone seat it contested.