'Limited choices' Raut on cabinet expansion

The Shiv Sena MP said that there were limited choices in reference to some senior party members not receiving cabinet berths

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut at Parliament House during the ongoing Winnter Session, in New Delhi, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Amid speculation that some senior Shiv Sena leaders were unhappy after not being inducted in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra council of ministers, party MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday said the Sena had a "limited choice" in the three-party alliance government.

Raut, who is the executive editor of Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana', told PTI that they had to accommodate allies who supported the Thackeray-led party after the state Assembly poll results were announced on October 24.

"We had to give a chance to new faces as well," the Rajya Sabha member said.

The Shiv Sena did not include its leaders like Ramdas Kadam, Diwakar Raote, Ravindra Waikar, Deepak Kesarkar and Tanaji Sawant in the new council of ministers during expansion on Monday.

Raut skipped the much-awaited ministry expansion ceremony on Monday. His absence was attributed to his brother Sunil Raut, a Sena MLA, not getting a ministerial berth.

Asked why he stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony, Raut on Tuesday said, "I was at the 'Saamana' office doing my job."

The opposition BJP also skipped the swearing-in ceremony of Thackeray's council of ministers.

Monday's expansion, which raised the strength of the state ministry to 43, came over a month after the Thackeray- led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government came to power.

The chief minister expanded his Cabinet by inducting 36 ministers, including his son Aaditya Thackeray and some Gen-next leaders from political families, while NCP's Ajit Pawar made a comeback as deputy CM.

The Shiv Sena last month joined hands with the Congress and NCP, its traditional adversaries, after its alliance with the BJP collapsed over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post.

On November 28, Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut of Congress, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai of the Sena and Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP had taken oath along with Thackeray.

In the 288-member House, the Sena has 56 MLAs, NCP 54 and Congress 44. The opposition BJP has 105 MLAs. 

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