Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is set formalise the much-anticipated Cabinet expansion with an oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhawan in Mumbai tomorrow. According to sources, the ceremony will take place at around 11 am. The officials have already started to the preparations for the impending ceremony. Sources told News Nation that four leaders will take oath as ministers. These include two leaders from Shiv Sena. Others are Republican Party of India’s Avinash Mahatekar and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who left the Congress and joined BJP recently.
It is still not known as to who are these two Shiv Sena leaders who will take oath tomorrow. Though Shiv Sena has not said anything, there is a strong buzz that Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya will take oath as Devendra Fadnavis’ deputy.
The development comes a day after the Shiv Sena chief and the Chief Minister met to work out on Cabinet expansion details. After meeting Uddhav Thackeray, Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, "I met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at his residence Matoshri and discussed in the cabinet expansion in detail." At present, there are 37 ministers including Devendra Fadnavis in the Maharashtra cabinet. Five more can be accommodated.
Another important addition to Maharashtra cabinet is Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. Former Maharashtra Congress leader, he resigned as MLA and submitted his resignation to Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha recently. At the time of his resignation, speculation was rife that he will join the Fadnavis government. Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil’s son Sujay Vikhe Patil had also left joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Meanwhile, saffron allies BJP and Shiv Sena will share equal number of seats in the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections, a senior BJP leader has said. Earlier this month, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said the two parties would contest 135 seats each in the 288-member House, and leave 18 seats for other allies.
"Both Amit Shah and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had given a word that BJP and Shiv Sena will fight the assembly polls together. Our party doesn't go back on its word," Patil said.
"We have 122 sitting MLAs and eight independents are supporting the BJP, whereas the Shiv Sena has 63 sitting MLAs. We will get only five additional seats," he said.
Fadnavis is the natural choice of the people, of the BJP as well as that of the Shiv Sena, he said, adding, the chief minister has balanced relations with Shiv Sena very well. "He has good equations with Uddhav Thackeray."
"When 'Saamana' (Sena mouthpiece) wrote critical editorials, he would tell the party not to make their criticism public in the newspaper, but express it internally," Patil said.
In the recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls, the saffron parties together won 41 of the 48 seats. While the BJP secured 23 of the 25 seats it contested, the Sena managed victory in 18 of the 23 seats it fought.
Assembly elections in Maharashtra is scheduled to be held between September and October this year.