While Prime Minister Eknath Shinde on Thursday said “Cabinet expansion will take place in two to three days,” Deputy Prime Minister Devendra Fadnavis refused to set a date and assured that the cabinet portfolios would be allotted soon.
The sources said the excessive delay in the expansion of the government was due to the “internal turmoil” facing the Eknath Shinde faction. “The disagreement over the governor is secondary. The real thing is to get MLAs to come to terms with the fact that not all of them can fulfill their ambitions and become ministers,” said a former BJP minister.
With the aspirants outnumbering the available ministerial berths, the BJP’s central leadership adopted a wait-and-see policy to allow unrest within the Shind faction to spread first, according to party insiders.
A senior party official said, “We have a problem with the abundance. If we look at the Shinde faction, there are 50 MLAs. Among them are 40 MLAs from Shiv Sena. Everyone wants to become a minister.” In all, Maharashtra can have 43 ministers, including the Cabinet.
“If we look at the past precedents of coalition governments in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, one month is not a long time for cabinet expansion,” said a BJP political director.
A senior party official added, “The Shinde camp of 40 SLA rebels has a two-thirds majority in the assembly… Accordingly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives considered them a separate group… However, the legal battle over who Shiv Sena is The real issue or issue relating to the disqualification of members is pending before the Supreme Court.” The case was listed for hearing on August 1.
Ahead of the legal battle, the BJP General Secretary said: “If the government hurries to expand the cabinet, and if three to four rebel MLAs show anger and return to the Uddhav Thackeray camp, it could aggravate the crisis. If the Shinde faction fails to retain a two-thirds majority, Not only will this compound the legal complications, it will also destabilize the very foundation of the newly formed Shinde-Fadnavis government.”
The former BJP minister said the problem was not limited to the Shind faction.
“The BJP, with 106 MLAs, is a larger party. It cannot be considered as playing a secondary role. Without its support, the Shinde faction cannot rule Maharashtra.”
“Federal Home Minister Amit Shah will play a crucial role in adapting the cabinet… from shortlisting candidates to allocating portfolios,” a source said.
A source said that the BJP would most likely not succumb to Shinde pressure, “The formula for forming the government will be based on the strength of each party.. If the Vadnavis keep the house, then Shinde will get urban development and vice versa.” The source added that the BJP was unlikely to drop its claim on funding and revenue.