Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday began the formal process of consultations with the core committee of the BJP leaders and alliance partners ahead of the cabinet reshuffle cum expansion scheduled for the last week of November.
Highly placed sources in the government revealed to The Indian Express, “ Yes, cabinet expansion will take place. The details related to regionwise shortlisting of candidates and portfolios are being fine tuned now.”
The biggest challenge before the chief minister is to accommodate the regional and caste composition in the cabinet to strike a balance and also pacify the pulls and pressures from the alliance partners supporting the BJP government in Maharashtra.
He also indicated there would be five ministers representing the BJP party, one each from Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Rashtriya Swabhimani Party and two from the Shiv Sena.
At present, the Fadnavis government has 30 ministers. Out of which, 20 represent the BJP and 10 Shiv Sena. The maximum strength of the Maharashtra cabinet cannot exceed 42 ministers. This means that the chief minister will have only 12 new ministers. However, Fadnavis is unlikely to the exhaust entire quota and would like to retain two to three vacant berths to ensure future adjustments. The Republican Party of India and the Shiv Sangram, which constitute the smaller allies, are unlikely to get any ministerial berth in the Fadnavis government.
Earlier in the day, state BJP president held a meeting with all leaders of four smaller alliance partners namely RPI chief Ramdas Athavale, Shiv Sangram’s Vinayak Mete, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana’s Raju Shetty and Rashtriya Samaj Party’s Mahadeo Jhankar.
The BJP argued, “It cannot take the onus of getting all the allies candidates elected for council. That would deprive their own candidates also vying for the council seat.” Moreover, half a dozen vacancies in state council will be after July 2016.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who is presently not in Mumbai, and is scheduled to return on November 25, will likely hold a meeting with the chief minister after he returns to discuss which two ministers will represent his party in the cabinet.