RPI (A) prez Athawale's wife likely to get berth in Maharashtra ministry

Mumbai: The wife of RPI (A) president Ramdas Athawale, an ally of BJP, is likely to be inducted into the Maharashtra Council of Ministers, which is expected to be expanded in the next couple of months.

Ramdas Athawale
Ramdas Athawale

The Dalit leader will soon propose the name of his wife Seema for induction in the Devendra Fadnavis-led ministry from the quota of smaller alliance partners of BJP, Republican Party of India (A) sources said today.

The Maharashtra Ministry, which took charge in October last, currently has 30 members, all of them from BJP and Shiv Sena.

According to sources in BJP, the Cabinet is likely to be expanded in the next couple of months. Prior to the Assembly polls last year, the BJP had assured its smaller alliance partners a 10 per cent share in power (in form of ministership/head of state corporations) in a bid to get their support.

However, the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh (RSP), the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtna (SSS), the Shiv Sangram and RPI (A), which supported the BJP during the polls, are yet to be given any significant position, either in the ministry or in any of the state corporations.

A BJP leader said the party had offered Athawale a position in the Cabinet if he agreed to give up his Rajya Sabha seat. He refused the offer and instead demanded a ministerial berth at the Centre.

"The party will offer his party a Minister of State post and a Corporation chairmanship," the leader said.

An RPI (A) leader, requesting anonymity, said around 25 people are eyeing ministerial berths. Thus, to avoid internal tussle, Athawale's wife will be chosen to represent the party in the BJP-led ministry. "There are about 20-25 people who are eyeing ministers post from the party quota. Hence, the only solution is that we propose Seematai's name to avoid infighting and differences,"

the RPI (A) leader said. Athawale was not available for comment as he is on a tour of Japan with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

"Though Avinash Mahatekar is the senior-most leader (after Athawale), others like Bhupesh Tundkar, M D Shewale, Baburao Kadam and also formers officers who joined RPI are looking for ministerial positions," the leader added. When contacted, Mahatekar, however, said he was not aware of any name being proposed by Athawale for induction into the Council of Ministers.

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