Mumbai: Three days after the expansion of the Maharashtra cabinet, the Uddhav Thackeray government is reportedly struggling with the issue of portfolio allocation as squabbles within the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi haven’t yet been resolved.
To make matters worse, internal dissent within the constituents of the MVA — Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress — have exposed the fissures in the alliance.
In the Shiv Sena, sources said, several MLAs are unhappy over “lost opportunities”. Bhaskar Jadhav, Pratap Sarnaik, Sunil Raut — Sanjay Raut’s brother — Prakash Abitkar, and Tanaji Sawant are among MLAs who have voiced their discontent with losing out on a ministerial post. In fact, there were murmurs in political circles that Thackeray’s confidant Sanjay Raut skipped the swearing-in ceremony as he was upset over his brother being denied a ministerial berth. The senior Sena leader, however, rubbished the insinuations.
The Congress, meanwhile, is in the hunt for meatier portfolios and is in talks with partners Sena and NCP for the same. Within the Congress, both Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat are contenders for the revenue portfolio. A day after expansion of Maharashtra cabinet, some voices of resentment were heard in the Congress camp with at least one senior leader hoping that the party brass takes note of the feeling that loyalists are being ignored at a time when they deserved an opportunity.
A senior Congress leader questioned integrity of MLAs Aslam Sheikh and Vishwajit Kadam who were inducted into the new Cabinet. While Sheikh took oath as a Cabinet minister, Kadam as Minister of State (MOS).
“Both Sheikh and Kadam were reportedly keen to join the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls held in October this year. They had even met with the then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Sheikh was even assured a ticket by the BJP, but it didn’t materialise which forced Sheikh to stay back in the Congress,” the party leader said.
Induction of Kadam, who is one of the five working presidents of the state Congress, has also ruffled feathers of some leaders who believe that the MLA from western Maharashtra was chosen over party loyalist Sangram Thopte, a three time MLA from Pune district.
Dominance of leaders from the Maratha caste and “no representation to OBC leaders from the Congress” in the new Cabinet is another reason for resentment, the leader claimed.
So far as the home portfolio is concerned, there are internal claims within the Sharad Pawar-led NCP for the post.
The BJP and Sena, which fought the assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. However, the state witnessed a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post.
An irate Sena then joined hands with the NCP and Congress to form a government headed by Uddhav Thackeray, who took oath as CM on November 28. According to the power-sharing formula agreed on by the three parties, the Shiv Sena would have 16 ministers (apart from chief minister), NCP 14 and the Congress 12.
Amid the struggles over portfolio allocation, the Shiv Sena attacked the BJP for targeting the new government and also slammed dissenting MLAs of its own alliance over the squabbles.
In an editorial in Saamana, the Sena said sparks are seen after every cabinet expansion. “Though cabinet expansion is considered good news by some, it is a headache for the high command. The good part is, the Thackeray-led government has filled up all the positions, unlike the BJP which had kept a few vacant to dangle a carrot in front of the dissenting MLAs. A strong and experienced cabinet has come into being. They should be allowed to function.”
Source: News 18