9:21 am - Monday July 22, 2019

It’s not over yet! BJP, Sena play tug-of-war over Maha home ministry

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Following a prolonged stand-off with the BJP, the Shiv Sena finally swallowed its pride and came around. It took a call from BJP’s strategy expert Amit Shah for the Sena to see sense. After exhorting Sena MLAs to not attend Devendra Fadnavis’ swearing in ceremony, it was reported that BJP president Amit Shah has had a conversation with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and the latter might attend the oath-taking of the new government. Uddhav Thackeray sent ripples of surprise in the media and among politics watchers as he turned up for Fadnavis’ swearing-in ceremony held at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. TV cameras then showed him exchanging pleasantries with the BJP leadersehip, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, while BJP’s victory was being hailed all over, the Sena, reports suggest, played its last and most effective card to make sure they get the next best deal after the CM’s post. According to a report published on The Times of India yesterday, Uddhav Thackeray made it very clear that if his new set of demands are not met, he wouldn’t blink before announcing the leader of the opposition from Shiv Sena. The Sena is the second largest party in the Maharashtra assembly and can easily assume the place of the opposition. Confronted with the idea of including independent candidates or worse still, take NCP’s support, the BJP leadership assured Sena that the party will not be given a short shrift during portfolio distribution.Likewise, a report published on The Indian Express, says that the BJP has decided to give a third of it’s portfolios to the Shiv Sena, though it will claim the top four posts in the government.
The Indian Express report states: “While the BJP seemed agreeable to sharing some key infrastructure and social sector portfolios with the Sena, it has decided to keep the four most coveted ministries of Home, Revenue, Finance, Urban Development with itself.”
The report also claims that the Sena ministers will not be inducted into the new government until Devendra Fadnavis wins the trust vote on the floor of the assembly.
It quotes a BJP leader as saying, “There is no question of a cabinet expansion before the vote of trust in the assembly. Any exercise to induct the Shiv Sena will take place after the CM wins the vote of confidence.”
However, another Hindustan Times (HT) report says that the Shiv Sena has urged the BJP to allot the party portfolios as soon as possible, preferably before the confidence vote takes place.
The HT report says: “Sena MP and Uddhav’s emissary, Anil Desai, is said to have spoken to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday, conveying to him the Sena’s request of completing the discussion before the trust vote. A source indicated that the Sena’s demand of getting one-third of the ministerial posts in the government still remained. For now, the party is said to have demanded 10 seats, considering the government will have 30 ministerial berths.”
The Shiv Sena, it is believed, has asked for key portfolios like home, energy, housing, PWD and roads.
According to a report on The Economic Times (ET), Uddhav Thackeray has demanded four cabinet posts and six minister of state posts for Sena MLAs. The party had even demanded the post of the Deputy CM, but it is not clear if they will be given the post or not.
ET quotes a Sena leader as saying, “While we are also looking at the deputy chief minister’s post, we are clear that we want the home portfolio because that is as good as the deputy chief minister’s post.”

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