Maharashtra: Cabinet expansion due this week, Fadnavis may get home
Sources have indicated that the cabinet expansion in Maharashtra is expected to take place this week following a series of meetings to resolve lingering issues that were delaying the move during a dispute over the state's Home Ministry. Reportedly, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently stated that the expansion of the Maharashtra cabinet will occur "before you can even imagine."
Why does this story matter?
Maharashtra's chief minister, Eknath Shinde, gained control of a faction of the Shiv Sena following his rebellion along with other MLAs. The revolt reduced the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition's government to a minority, and Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the CM on June 29. Shinde was sworn in as Maharashtra's CM on June 30 with the support of 40 Shiv Sena MLAs and the BJP.
Devendra Fadnavis to be awarded home portfolio: Sources
According to sources, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Fadnavis is likely to be awarded the state's home portfolio, clearing the way for cabinet expansion in Maharashtra, which has been operating with a two-member cabinet since June 30. Both Fadnavis and CM Shinde were in Delhi during the weekend, as Shinde attended the NITI Aayog meeting with 22 other state chief ministers.
BJP to try new faces before next Assembly elections
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 the BJP is yet to be finalized.
BJP may keep key portfolios
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.
BJP to target 16 opposition leaders' strongholds for 2024: Fadnavis
Fadnavis announced that the BJP has embarked on a quest to strengthen its presence in Maharashtra for the 2024 general elections by targeting 16 constituencies where opposition leaders have maintained a winning streak. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been tasked with coordinating efforts to improve the BJP's performance in Baramati, the Pawar family bastion, from where Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule is the MP.
'Sena, BJP will contest Lok Sabha elections together'
Fadnavis further stated that among these strongholds which the BJP is now targeting also include those held by Shiv Sena leaders who have since joined Team Shinde. "Since Shiv Sena and BJP will contest the Lok Sabha elections as a coalition, the BJP will work to ensure the victory of the sitting Lok Sabha members from these constituencies," the Deputy CM of Maharashtra stated.
Thackeray's fate hangs in balance
Shinde has a good chance to seize the leadership of the Sena if the Supreme Court upholds the sub-judice speaker's decision. In that case, Thackeray would be completely isolated within the party that his father founded. However, this would be a breach of the anti-defection law, which specifies that a party may only save its membership by merging a group with another party.