Ahead of the slated cabinet expansion in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena is fighting hard for better portfolios both at the Centre and the state. The recent outburst of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut at Aurangabad against the BJP-led Centre is being perceived as a tactical decision to try and redefine the terms of the alliance between the two parties.
A highly placed source in the BJP said, “The periodical outbursts of Shiv Sena is not a new phenomenon. What needs to be studied is the timing. It coincides with talks of cabinet expansion cum reshuffle both at the Centre and the state.”
A source in the Sena, who did not wish to be named, said, “ It is a fact that the BJP is clearly dominating the governments both the Centre and the state. There is nothing wrong in the Sena trying to extract its deserving share from the BJP.”
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At the Centre, the Shiv Sena has only one minister in the Modi government. Cabinet minister Anant Geete holds the heavy industries portfolio. Last year, the BJP had agreed to accommodate one more Sena candidate in the government as minister of state. The name of Anil Desai was listed and even sent to the President, but the Sena withdrew his candidature at the eleventh hour as it wanted a better portfolio.
“After the exit of senior minister Eknath Khadse, the Shiv Sena believes it can try to push its demand for better portfolios in the Maharashtra government,” a source said.
Khadse held ten portfolios, including revenue and agriculture. The Sena is vying for the ministry of agriculture, but the BJP has made it clear that it will not give up its claim on the revenue and agriculture portfolios.
The cabinet expansion-cum-reshuffle in Maharashtra is likely after June 15. According to the 2014 formula, the BJP was to have two-third of the total Cabinet ministers and Sena one-third.
At present, there are total 30 ministers, out of which 20 belong to the BJP and 10 to the Sena. There are 12 vacancies. The maximum cabinet posts in state cannot exceed 42.
Among the important portfolios held by the Sena are transport, health, public works department (Public undertaking), environment and industries.
During the June expansion, the Sena can get two more ministers of state (MoS junior rank) and BJP can have 10 more ministers from its party, including smaller allies also seeking ministerial posts. Indications are that the BJP would have six ministers from its own party and consider two candidates from smaller allies, the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and the Rashtriya Samaj Party.
Sena spokesperson joins BJP
Shiv Sena spokesperson Shweta Parulekar on Wednesday formally joined the BJP, at the party’s Women Wing’s Conclave.
In 2005-06, Parulekar was a founder member of the Maharashtra Navnirman
Sena led by Raj Thackeray. She left the MNS in 2009 to join the Shiv Sena.