Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said the expansion of his Cabinet will happen soon, but refused to commit any specific deadline for the much-awaited exercise.
Fadnavis’ comments came Wednesday, a day after BJP president Amit Shah held a meeting of select leaders of the party in Mumbai, amid talks of the expansion of Cabinet.
“The expansion of the council of ministers will be carried out soon,” the chief minister told reporters in Solapur, around 400 kms from here.
Responding to a query on the proposed reshuffle, Fadnavis said, “Who will be in and who will be out will be known at appropriate time”.
Fadnavis is heading the BJP-led government, in which the Shiv Sena is a key partner, since October, 2014. There have been talks of a possible expansion of the state Council of Ministers for the last few months. Interestingly, Fadnavis had last September also said that his cabinet will be expanded soon.
A vacancy arose when Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar of the BJP died in May. His portfolio is now being handled by PWD and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil.
The number of ministers in Maharashtra cannot exceed 42 (as per the constitutional upper limit of 15 per cent of the number of MLAs). The current strength of the state ministry is 38, of which 22 ministers are of the Cabinet rank and rest 16 are the ministers of state.
Of the 22 Cabinet ministers, 16 ministers are from the BJP, 5 from the Shiv Sena and one from the RashtriyaSamaj Paksh (RSP). Of the 16 ministers of state, eight ministers are from the BJP, seven from the Shiv Sena while one minister belongs to a BJP ally. The Fadnavis government completed four years on October 31.
While the talk of Cabinet expansion has been on for the last many months and different deadlines were committed, the actual exercise is yet to be carried out. Assembly elections are due in Maharashtra in October next year.
Sources in the BJP had said that the reshuffle, which may be the last before Lok Sabha and assembly polls, could be aimed at course correction and finding a right balance of caste and region.