Addressing a press conference yesterday, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray stopped short of snapping ties with the BJP, and offered the party two days to clarify its stance on taking support from the NCP
The Mystery over who will be part of the government with the BJP showed no sign of being solved yesterday with the Shiv Sena choosing to adopt a wait-and-watch policy.
The Shiv Sena chief said the party would not hesitate to vote against the BJP in the trust vote if the latter chooses to take the NCP’s support. Pics/Shadab Khan
Addressing a press conference in the evening, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked the BJP to make its stand clear regarding taking support from the NCP and said that his party would decide on backing the BJP based on that.
Sena MP Anil Desai was asked to come back to Mumbai after the party was told by the BJP that its demand for two Cabinet-rank berths and one MoS-rank post would not be met
While the Sharad Pawar-led NCP has said it will abstain from voting against the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in the Assembly trust vote, the Sena has given the BJP two days to choose between its former ally and the NCP. The Sena also indicated that it was wary of quitting the NDA as it refrained from asking Union minister Anant Geete to quit the Narendra Modi-led cabinet.
The middle path chosen by the Sena makes it clear that the party is not ready to snap all ties with the BJP in view of the immediate fallout that would have on the allies’ governance of civic bodies in Mumbai, Thane
Us or them
If the sources from the party are to be believed, Shiv Sena had asked for two Cabinet- and one minister of state-rank post for its MPs in the Cabinet expansion at that took place yesterday.
When it was made clear that the party would only get one Cabinet- and one MoS-rank berth, the Sena decided to call back its candidate Anil Desai to Mumbai from Delhi airport. Former Sena leader Suresh Prabhu, meanwhile, joined the BJP and was sworn in as a Cabinet minister.
Before announcing his decision, Thackeray held a meeting with his party MLAs and ensured that his trusted man, Eknath Shinde, was nominated as the party’s group leader in the state Assembly. If the Sena decides to stay away from the government and votes against the BJP on Wednesday, Shinde will hold the position of leader of opposition.
“We will not hesitate to vote against the BJP if it goes ahead with NCP’s support,” Thackeray said. Thackeray came down heavily against the NCP, saying it was Sharad Pawar who had coined the word saffron terrorism.
“His party MLAs supported Ishrat Jehan by visiting her home. We don’t want to betray people of the state and will not, in any manner, allow forces to strengthen those who wanted to finish Hindutva,” Thackeray said.
“We are not desperate for power,” was Uddhav’s contention, despite the fact that his party is still part of the NDA government at the Centre. Thackeray also defended his decision of skipping the swearing-in of the expanded Cabinet with two berths being reserved for the Sena.
“It would have been ridiculous had our members been inducted in the Union Cabinet with the state-level matter remaining unclear,” said the Sena chief. Thackeray, for now, has succeeded in keeping his flock together despite strong resentment over the party’s decision to stay away from power.
The Sena’s rural network is reportedly unhappy at not joining the government and there are speculations that some of the MLAs might jump ship.
21 new Ministers
The strength of the Union Council of Ministers went up from 45 to 66 yesterday. The new faces in the Cabinet include former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, senior BJP leader J P Nadda, former Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu and Choudhury Birendra Singh, a prominent Jat leader from Haryana.
BJP general secretary and MP from Bihar Rajiv Pratap Rudy; Telangana leader Bandaru Dattatreya; and Dr Mahesh Sharma, an MP from Gautam Buddh Nagar (Noida), took oath as Ministers of State (Independent charge). Other Ministers of State included Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, ex-Olympian and Jaipur MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Chandrapur MP Hansraj Ahir.
Reacting to the Shiv Sena’s absence from the oath-taking ceremony during Sunday’s Cabinet expansion, CM Devendra Fadnavis said, “It was really unfortunate that Sena MP Anil Desai did not turn up for the ceremony even though PM Narendra Modi had invited him. This was not the time for discussing issues related to posts and portfolios.”