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CM Devendra Fadnavis gears for cabinet expansion next week

The efforts to get Shiv Sena to join gains momentum. CM says talks with Sena will reach a decisive stage soon.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Updated: November 23, 2014 5:06:33 pm
Devendra Fadnavis at the Maharashtra Assembly, on the first day of the new session, Monday.  (Source: Express photo by Pradeep Kochrekar) Devendra Fadnavis at the Maharashtra Assembly, on the first day of the new session, Monday.
(Source: Express photo by Pradeep Kochrekar)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is all set to carry out the cabinet expansion ahead of the crucial winter session beginning in Nagpur on December 8. Highly placed sources in the BJP revealed to Indian Express, “The BJP intends to induct at least 10 more ministers including five cabinet rank to take its total tally from existing ten council of ministers to at least 20 ministers.”

Hoping Shiv Sena will sooner or later join the government, BJP are keeping sizeable berths vacant. The state cabinet can have maximum 42
ministers. Fadnavis wanted to keep a moderate cabinet size without expanding the existing 30 to 35 ministers. Thus, BJP is willing to give one-third of representation to the Sena in cabinet.

The process of shortlisting the names of BJP candidates is underway.

However, the party is also making serious attempts to get its estranged ally Shiv Sena to join the government. The cabinet expansion is likely to happen between November 25 and 30.

On Saturday, Fadnavis has hinted a possible reconciliation between BJP and Sena, “Shiv Sena has always been our friend. I believe the talks will reach to a logical conclusion soon.” Although he has not spelled out whether Sena will join the cabinet next week, indications of reconciliation

Although he has not spelled out whether Sena will join the cabinet next week, there is possibility of Sena joining the ranks. The Shiv Sena union minister for heavy industries Anant Geete said, “The Sena continues to be a part of the NDA”

In what was an apparent softening of stand, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Saturday went the extra mile of appreciating Fadnavis government’s decision to expedite the Shivaji Statue memorial. The meeting between Union Minister Suresh Prabhu and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is also seen as a move towards bridging the differences within saffron allies.

A senior BJP cabinet minister told Indian Express, “Our immediate concern is to ensure decent cabinet size as we will have to conduct
the work in both state assembly and council.”

The names of the BJP candidates who are likely to become ministers are Girish Bapat (Kasba Peth constituency in Pune), Jaiprakash Rawal
(Sindkhed in Dhule), Girish Mahajan (Jamner in Jalgaon), Chainsukh Sancheti (Malkapur in Buldhana), Ram Shinde (Karjat Jamkhed in
Ahmednagar), Subash Deshmukh (Solapur South in Solapur) and Sambhaji Nilengekar Patil (Latur, Marathwada).

A senior BJP functionary revealed, “We are also likely to induct at least one woman in the cabinet.”

The names in the reckoning are, Snehalata Kolhe (Kopargaon, Ahmednagar) or Devyani Pharande (Nashik Central in Nashik).

The BJP which gave excellent performance from Mumbai will also see at least one more minister from the city. There are talks that Mumbai
BJP chief Ashish Shelar (Bandra West) may become a cabinet minister.

However, if he is accorded a greater role in state BJP organisation, Raj Purohit (Colaba) may get the nod,  sources indicated.

At present, the BJP has a ten-member council including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. And in the cabinet there are seven cabinet rank
and three ministers of state.

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