BJP-Sena rule in Maharashtra after 15 yrs; 20 ministers inducted

Mumbai: BJP and Shiv Sena are ruling Maharashtra once again after 15 years with the induction of ten ministers from Shiv Sena in the 35-day old Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra this afternoon.

Sena's joining the BJP government now is unique, because this is the first time a party sitting in the opposition -- albeit for a short duration -- is switching the sides.

Governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office to 20 ministers, including 10 from BJP. Ten cabinet ministers, five each from BJP and Sena, were sworn in.

Eknath Shinde
Shiv Sena's Eknath Shinde tendered his resignation as Leader of Opposition on Friday morning since his party is moving to the treasury benches

Cabinet ministers who took the oath were Girish Bapat (BJP), Girish Mahajan (BJP), Diwakar Raote (Shiv Sena), Subhash Desai (SS), Ramdas Kadam (SS), Eknath Shinde (SS), Chandrashekhar Bawankule (BJP), Babanrao Lonikar (BJP), Dr Deepak Sawant (SS) and Rajkumar Badole (BJP). Ministers of state sworn in were Ram Shinde (BJP), Vijay Deshmukh (BJP), Sanjay Rathod (Shiv Sena), Dada Bhuse (SS), Vijay Shivtare (SS), Deepak Kesarkar (SS), Raje Amrish Atram (BJP), Ravindra Waikar (SS), Dr Ranjit Patil (BJP) and Pravin Pote (BJP).

Two more Sena ministers are expected to take oath during the next cabinet expansion, possibly after the winter session of the state legislature.

When Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister on October 31, nine other ministers, all from BJP, took oath. No Sena minister was sworn in then, as talks between the two parties, which had contested the Assembly polls separately, were inconclusive.

NCP had offered "unsolicited" outside support to the BJP government, which won a trust vote earlier this month.

Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his family members were present today to witness his partymen, who were wearing saffron phetas (turbans), being sworn in. RPI leader Ramdas Athawale and Shivsangram leader Vinayak Mete, whose parties were BJP's pre-poll allies, were also present.

However, no one from these two parties was sworn in. Congress and NCP leaders, who had attended the October 31 ceremony, were conspicuous by their absence.

The last time BJP and Sena were in power was during 1995-99 when it was the Sena which was in the role of 'big brother' and had the Chief Minister's post while BJP had Deputy Chief Minister's post. This time, the roles have been reversed; however Sena does not even have the solace of having one of its leaders as Deputy Chief Minister as Fadnavis yesterday said the ministry won't have this post.

Announcing the formation of a 'yuti' (alliance) government here yesterday, Fadnavis, flanked by senior Sena leaders, said the two parties had decided to run the government in alliance "to honour the sentiment of the people who want to see the Sena and BJP work together for Maharashtra".

After the 25-year-old Sena-BJP alliance broke up just before the October elections, Sena consciously targeted its former ally during the election campaign.

With BJP failing to achieve a simple majority in the elections and Sena getting nowhere close to the number needed to form the government, revival of the alliance became imperative for both.

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