Eknath Shinde's cabinet: BJP to get maximum berths, key portfolios
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is planning to expand his cabinet after the Supreme Court hearing on Monday (July 11). He is likely to have a total of 45 ministers, most of them from the alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), holding key portfolios. There will be 25 ministers from the BJP, 13 from Shinde's camp of Shiv Sena, and independent ones, NDTV reported.
- Shinde gained control of Shiv Sena following his rebellion along with other MLAs.
- The revolt reduced the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition's government to a minority and Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the chief minister on June 29.
- Shinde was sworn in as Maharashtra's chief minister on June 30 with the support of 40 Shiv Sena MLAs and the BJP.
According to NDTV, most of the ministers in Shinde's cabinet would be new, with the exception of the chief minister and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis, who was the CM of Maharashtra previously. It said the BJP intends to put new faces to the test before the next Maharashtra Assembly elections. However, the arrangement between Shinde's Sena and BJP is yet to be finalized.
According to reports, Shinde will make his final cabinet selection after the Supreme Court rules on the likely disqualification of 16 MLAs, including himself, on Monday. The Supreme Court will be hearing the legality of disqualification notifications handed by Shiv Sena chief Thackeray to 16 members of the renegade camp claiming to be the genuine Shiv Sena.
In its cabinet-sharing deal, the BJP is expected to keep the crucial home, finance, revenue, and PWD ministries, while ceding the urban development, irrigation, and MSRDC portfolios to the Sena's Shinde faction. Notably, the Shinde group enjoys the backing of 50 MLAs, including 40 Sena rebels. The BJP has 106 MLAs and is supported by a number of smaller parties and independents.
The Thackeray faction has filed a Supreme Court petition challenging the Assembly speaker's decision to designate a new Shiv Sena chief whip. A hearing has been scheduled for Monday. Meanwhile, Bharat Gogawale, the new Sena whip, has given the speaker notice to terminate the membership of 16 Shiv Sena MLAs associated with the Thackeray group. All of these lawmakers will likely be suspended.
Shinde has a good chance to seize the leadership of the Shiv Sena if the Supreme Court upholds the speaker's decision. In that case, Thackeray will be completely isolated in the party that his father founded. However, this would be a breach of the anti-defection rule, which specifies that a party may only save its membership by merging a group with another party.