Even as the Shiv Sena demands honour and respect in the NDA — but isn’t sure of getting more representation at the Centre when Narendra Modi expands his cabinet on Tuesday — the BJP has decided to appease its smaller ally, the Republic Party of India-A by inducting its chief, Ramdas Athawale, as a minister in Delhi.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said yesterday that the party would not compromise on self-respect even as RPI chief Ramdas Athawale (right) gets ready to be inducted into the Modi cabinet. File pic
Modi’s new team will have one more minister from Maharashtra in its first-time Dhule MP, Dr Subhas Bhamre, whose inclusion will balance intra-BJP politics in north Maharashtra. The region has seen unrest since state minister Eknath Khadse, fending off corruption charges, resigned in June.
Both Bhamre and Athawale will be made ministers of state, said sources in the BJP.
Athawale had spent the last two years sulking because his pleas for a share in power were ignored by the BJP bosses.
Sources said if the Sena gets a call at the eleventh hour, its Rajya Sabha MP, Anil Desai, will take oath as minister.
We're not helpless: Uddhav
Meanwhile, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told the media on the eve of the cabinet expansion that his party is not helpless, but demanded a respectful deal. He said nobody from the BJP has had a word with him on the expansion yet.
Currently, the Sena has a sole senior minister, Anant Geete, in the Modi cabinet. He looks after the less lucrative industry and public enterprises ministry. The Sena has been expecting more berths.
But, Uddhav indicated that his party will not push for anything, but resolve to get what is rightfully due to the Sena.
“There is no question of what we want, but we think whatever happens should be respectful. And let me tell you that we will take whatever we have our right to. We will not compromise our self-respect,” he said.
The Sena had missed the bus in the last expansion because the BJP did not want to part with a particular charge the Sena wanted for its nominee, Anil Desai. Incensed, Sena boycotted the swearing-in ceremony and asked Desai to return to Mumbai from the Delhi airport, from where he was about to leave for the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Sources said it is never too late when it comes to making a last-minute change to the expansion plan. “The Sena may get a call late in the night to nominate its MP,” said a senior Sena leader.
In case the Sena does not get an invitation to take oath, it may even boycott the expansion of Devendra Fadnavis cabinet to be held before the monsoon session of the state legislature, which will start on July 18.
As per the agreement between the two parties, the Sena has two more vacancies of minister of state in its share. Despite the agreement, the Sena is likely to demand more berths, including a cabinet rank, which the BJP has decided to turn down.