Weeks after squabbling over allocation of portfolios, the Shiv Sena finally joined the BJP-led government in Maharashtra on Friday when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expanded his 34-day-old cabinet.
Ten cabinet ministers, five each from Shiv Sena and BJP, were inducted in the Devendra Fadnavis ministry.
The expansion of Devendra Fadnavis government was done ahead of the crucial Winter Session which is scheduled to begin in Nagpur on December 8.
Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai, Divakar Raote, Ramdas Kadam, Eknath shinde and Deepak Sawant were inducted as Cabinet Ministers. Maharashtra Governor Vidysagar Rao also gave oath to BJP MLA Girish Bapat, Girish Mahajan, Chandrashekhar Baban Kule, Babanrao Lonikar and Raj Kumar Badole as Cabinet Minister.
BJP MLAs Vijay Deshmukh, Ram Shinde, Ranjit Patil, Pravin Pote and Shiv Sena MLAs Sanjay Rathod, Dada Bhuse, Vijay Shivtare, Deepak Kesarkar, Ambrish Raje Atram, Ravindra Vaykar were inducted as Minister of State. The cabinet expansion ceremony held at Vidhan Bhawan.
This is the first instance in Maharashtra where an opposition party has joined the ruling party in an alliance government.
The reunion of the two parties, which snapped ties just before Assembly polls in October, is expected to provide greater stability with the strength of the alliance now being 183 — well past the halfway mark of 144 in the Assembly.
After the ministry expansion, Shiv Sena has formally become part of the BJP-led state government. After the cabinet reshuffle, the Fadnavis government is no longer in minority in the state assembly and now has a strength of 184 in the 287-member Assembly (one BJP legislator died soon after the poll results were announced in October).
The BJP has a strength of 121 legislators and the Shiv Sena 63.
Not just Sena’s participation in the government but overall alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena has been revived as Fadnavis also announced the formation of a co-ordination committee which will decide how to co-operate in the upcoming municipal elections in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai had on Thursday said that the two parties had decided to come together again and run a stable government in the state as per the mandate of the people.
Shiv Sena was, however, denied the post of deputy chief minister since CM had announced that there will be no such post in his government. Notably, in the first BJP-Shiv Sena alliance government in 1995-99, the Sena held the post of chief minister and the BJP had the deputy chief minister’s post.
The two parties – allies for 25 years – split on September 25 after a bitter spat and fought the assembly elections separately.
“The people voted against the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (alliance). Our decision has been taken respecting the public sentiments in this context, and we have decided to form the alliance government,” Fadnavis said, putting the lid on over two months of speculation whether the two parties would unite.
Desai, on his turn, added, “We will strive to provide a good government and are confident that we will live up to the people’s mandate.”
Today’s expansion will bring relief to the government as it readies for its first full-fledged winter session of the legislature that starts on Monday in Nagpur, the state’s second capital. Another expansion is also likely on cards after the Winter Session in Nagpur.
A decision on including other smaller alliance partners in the cabinet would be taken in due course, Fadnavis said.
Political analysts say the Shiv Sena’s decision was prompted largely by apprehensions that the party could split if it continued in the opposition, with the splinter group joining the BJP. Today’s cabinet expansion took place after over two months of aggressive positions by leaders from both sides even as back-channel talks continued quietly.