Opposition Sena becomes ruling ally, Fadnavis expands ministry

Mumbai: After a split of 70 days, the Shiv Sena and the BJP Friday revived their 25-year-old alliance again to rule Maharashtra with the Sena formally joining the Devendra Fadnavis ministry after sitting in the opposition for a month.

Ten members of the Sena were sworn-in, apart from 10 others from the Bharatiya Janata Party, by Governor C.V. Rao in the cabinet expansion which now takes the strength of the Fadnavis ministry to 30.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis along with Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray during the swearing-in ceremony for the new ministers yesterday. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis along with Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray during the swearing-in ceremony for the new ministers yesterday. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi 

The ministry now has 18 ministers of cabinet rank, including five from the Sena, and 12 ministers of state, including five from the Sena.

The BJP has decided not to have the post of a deputy chief minister and no representation was given to other smaller parties and Independents supporting the government.

The cabinet ministers who took oath Friday are: Girish Bapat, Girish Mahajan, Chandrasekhar Bawankule, Babanrao Lonikar and Rajkumar Badole (all BJP), and former Leaders of Opposition Eknath Shinde and Ramdas Kadam, Diwakar Raote, Subhash Desai and Deepak Sawant from the Shiv Sena.

The ministers of state are: Ram Shinde, Vijay Deshmukh, Raje Atram, Ranjit Patil and Pravin Pote (all BJP), and Sanjay Rathod, Dada Bhuse, Vijay Shivtare, Deepak Kesarkar and Ravindra Waikar, all from the Shiv Sena.

Since the Sena has also been given two more posts, two more ministers from it will be inducted in the next cabinet expansion likely to take place at a later date.

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, along with his family members and other top party leaders, witnessed the ceremony as did leaders of the Republican Party of India-Athawale and Shiv Sangram party.

The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, which had attended the swearing-in of the Fadnavis government Oct 31, remained absent.

The ball was set rolling earlier Friday morning when Shiv Sena's Shinde tendered his resignation as Leader of Opposition as the party joined the treasury benches.

The party, which has 63 legislators and had opted to sit in the opposition last month, changed sides and joined the BJP government - reviving the 25-year-old alliance which had been snapped three weeks before the Oct 15 state assembly elections.

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