Despite being denied a Cabinet post for the party in the Centre by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the lone MoS from Shiv Sena, Anant Geete, did not boycott the swearing-in ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi and in fact participated in the event.
Sources said that the Centre had clearly told Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray that in the reshuffle, they can only accommodate one candidate and give him a MoS rank.
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Thackeray, who was keen on getting a Cabinet post for his party member Anil Desai, however, turned down the offer.
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And even though Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had conveyed the Sena’s sentiments to the central leadership, the Union government had made it clear that if they twist the norms for Sena and give them a Cabinet post, other small allies would also stake similar claims.
However, ahead of the state Cabinet expansion scheduled for this week, Fadnavis has promised ally Shiv Sena an additional Cabinet rank or a plum portfolio in the state government.
Sources in the Sena, meanwhile, said, “Even if the Central leadership had offered Sena one Cabinet rank, Thackeray would have had plenty of problems. Many senior Sena ministers – from Chandrakant Khaire, Bhawna Gawli and Sanjay Raut – aspired for a berth in the Modi Cabinet. If any one of them would have been chosen, there would have been a crack in the party.”
Also, enhancing Sena’s say in the Maharashtra government, if they are given better portfolio or additional Cabinet post, works in the party’s advantage.
At present, there are 29 ministers in the state Cabinet, of whom 10 are from Shiv Sena and the remaining 19 belong to the BJP.