BJP, Shiv Sena bury the hatchet in Maharashtra

Power to be shared 2:1; Thackeray's party to get 12 berths

BJP, Shiv Sena bury the hatchet in Maharashtra

The month-old BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra appeared set to expand its 10-member ministry by partnering with the Shiv Sena to ensure adequate stability during the upcoming winter session of the Assembly in Nagpur.

After several rounds of successful talks between interlocutors from both parties over the last four days, it has emerged that the BJP and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena will share power in a 2:1 ratio. The BJP has now offered the Sena five cabinet-rank and seven minister of state-rank berths. 

Among those who could be inducted are Thackeray family close aide Subhash Desai, currently Leader of Opposition Eknath Shinde, Ramdas Kadam, Dr Neelam Gorhe and Diwakar Raote.

The Sena, however, is still bargaining for the post of deputy chief minister, which the BJP is in no mood to offer. The BJP also refuses to part with portfolios like home, revenue, finance, urban development, housing and rural development.

The ministries offered to the Sena include energy, water resources, industries and public works. The BJP is also learnt to have offered the post of chairpersons and presidents in one-third of state-run corporations and boards. 

As of now, the ministerial team's strength is 10, including the chief minister. Of them, eight are Cabinet ministers while two are ministers of state.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Fadnavis air-dashed to New Delhi with state Cooperation Minister Chandrakant Patil and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, where he met BJP president Amit Shah. 

“I can say that positive talks have taken place with the Shiv Sena. I have briefed the BJP president. I have confidence that they will go with us,” said Fadnavis. He refused to comment on the power-sharing formula.

Fadnavis is also expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi before returning to Mumbai. However, there was no independent confirmation.

On the other hand, Thackeray chaired a meeting of senior leaders in Mumbai, attended by former Lok Sabha speaker and former chief minister Manohar Joshi.

The ministry expansion will take place only on Friday or Saturday, as three-day state mourning has been declared from Tuesday following the death of former chief minister and senior Congress leader A R Antulay. 

The two-week-long winter session of the Maharashtra Assembly commenced on Monday. “The Nagpur session is crucial; there are a lot of issues. There is a drought-like situation in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, suicides by farmers, the murder of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar district, and the Local Body Tax and Toll,” said sources.

They added that though the government has passed the vote of confidence by a voice vote, it deemed it better to include the Sena rather than depend on the Nationalist Congress Party, which had extended unconditional outside support to the BJP government.

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