10:42 pm - Tuesday November 3, 2015

Maharashtra: Will Sena join the govt to bail out BJP’s greenhorns?

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Mumbai: The BJP’s minority government in the state will be up for a stormy winter session in the Assembly if the Shiv Sena refuses to join the ministry in this week’s cabinet expansion. With Sena playing hard ball, the BJP is left with no option but to fall back on NCP’s outside support for the smooth functioning of the assembly session.
However, senior BJP leaders sounded confident about a hiccup-free Assembly session and said that they were sure that all intended bills will be passed smoothly. The winter session is set to begin on 8 December.
“We will manage the floor well. At present we have backing from 140 MLAs. Since the five Congress MLAs have been suspended following tge scuffle with the governor, the number which is considered as majority has come down,” said a senior party leader on condition of anonymity.He added that the party was hopeful that a few more Congress MLAs will be suspended before the winter sessions takes off. Once the committee constituted to probe the assault on the governor presents its report, BJP leaders expect several other Congress leaders to be hauled up. In the process, the number of votes required to attain a majority in the house when it comes to passing bills, will be decreased. “It doesn’t seem like we will face major hiccups while proving majority in the floor. If we do, we will take support from other parties to pass bills in the interest of the state,” said the leader.
He added that bills which are likely to face stiff opposition in the House might not be introduced right away.
However, another BJP leader admitted that it would face the difficulty only in upper house. In the 78-member legislative council, BJP has only nine members while Sena has six. The NCP and Congress have 28 and 22 members respectively. The remaining members are from smaller parties and independents. So, we will have to seek support of other parties,” said the leader, indicating that it may take the support of NCP in the upper house.
BJP leader and Maharashtra PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said estranged ally Shiv Sena will be accommodated in the cabinet expansion before the winter session of the Assembly begins. “Talks are on and everything will be fine,” he said.
BJP leaders say that the party is trying to take Sena in the government following the NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s remarks of stability of BJP government is not NCP’s responsibility. “We are hoping that Sena will join the government since a large of section of its MLAs wants to be part of the government. If Sena joins us, then the tag of minority government will be removed,” a party functionary said.
While the sources in the Sena said that it will continue to insist on the post of deputy chief minister along with other plum portfolios, the BJP leaders said that the talks may resume after the winter session if Sena refuses to join the government in this week’s cabinet expansion.
Sources in the government said that the BJP government has no hold over the state administration. Except revenue minister Eknath Khadse and finance minister Sudhir Munganitwar, other ministers are the first-timers and have no experience of handling state administration. The new ministers are facing difficulties in handling even day-to-day affairs in the Mantralaya corridors, say bureaucrats.
“While the chief minister had announced the transfers of his public relations officers due to their casual approach and errors in drafting press releases earlier in this month, the same officials haven’t been removed yet and continue to hold the post. It seems the chief minister could not find another official who will take the charge of the said posts. It clearly shows that he has no control over the administration,” said a government official who didn’t want to disclose his name.
Also, apart from chief minister’s office, there is has been no major reshuffle in the bureaucracy. “Due to the uncertainty of BJP’s minority government, the current ministers are reluctant to take major policy decisions,” another government official said.

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