By Dilip Chaware
Chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis have decided to expand their saffron council of ministers by considering different factors so as to accord due weightage to all sections and all regions of the state. It appears that it will be done immediately after the Presidential election is held on Monday.
The two-member Maharashtra government has been taking one major decision after another, the latest being adopting a resolution renaming Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv. In fact, this renaming was decided in parting moments of the last cabinet meeting held by Uddhav Thackeray. The repetition of the renaming decision had become imperative since the previous resolution was adopted by an outgoing ministry, which was not supposed to take any decision once the governor had ordered a trust vote. To rectify this lacunae, the Shinde-Fadanvis duo decided to pass the resolution to this effect afresh.
Nationalist Congress party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar tried to distance away from the decision to which the Shiv Sena of Uddhav, the NCP and the Congress were a party. Interestingly, now that the decision is retaken, former Sena Aurangabad MP Chandrakant Khaire has demanded that the renaming must be effected by the Shinde-Fadanvis government within a month. Khaire was Sena MP for four terms but had never given such an ultimatum in the past.
Based on the strength of the BJP in the house, it will have a larger slice of the cake in the formation of the ministry. Shinde has nearly 40 MLAs behind him against the BJP’s about 120, which includes 15 independents. As the assembly speakership is with the BJP, the deputy speakership could be entrusted to a Shinde aide. Various important undertakings of the government will also have new heads. In all, it will be ensured that no discontent will erupt once the council of ministers is expanded.
Another round of political adjustments will take place once the supreme court clears decks for the saffron alliance to operate freely. Anticipating a favourable verdict, Shinde and Fadanvis have started planning their strategy for the Brihanmumbai municipal corporation (BMC) election, which will determine the future of the Shiv Sena under Uddhav.
A veteran journalist, formerly Special Correspondent, The Times of India, Mumbai.