Shiv Sena may get deputy chief minister post soon
As focus moves from Lok Sabha to Assembly polls, state government plans comprehensive farm loan waiver, while ally Sena is hopeful of getting lucrative posts till end of current term
With an eye on the Assembly polls, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had asked for the chief minister's post for the party, a demand which the BJP hasn't yet agreed to on record. However, sources say the BJP is likely to offer the deputy chief minister's post to the party for the remaining term.
While word about this has informally reached the Sena camp, as a senior Sena leader informed, rumours of a cabinet reshuffle after the Lok Sabha poll results, have also raised the hopes of some Sena leaders of a promotion in the government. He said things could turn tricky within the Sena if the offer is accepted or rejected.
Meanwhile, if the information gathered in the corridors of Mantralaya is to be believed, then the BJP government is also preparing to offer farmers a complete waiver, and expand the relief to debt-ridden farmers who availed loans till last year.
A large number of farmers and tribals held a rally in Mumbai for their demands, including loan waiver in 2018. File pic
The development is significant in the run-up to the Assembly polls scheduled for October this year. It also augurs well for the renewed bonhomie between the ruling partners, because the primary condition that the Shiv Sena had imposed while joining hands with the party in the Lok Sabha elections, was that the BJP grants unconditional loan waiver to all farmers in debt. Sources said the unconditional part of it - the existing relief scheme has a cap - could be a contentious issue, but the farmers who sought loans in 2017 and 2018 too would get a waiver under the current scheme. The modalities are being worked out, said sources.
Drought, a poll issue
The waiver extension means great relief to farmers affected by the worst drought. The water and fodder scarcity has taken a toll on agro economics of the state, and it had become a poll plank in the rural areas. Though several other issues also prevailed in the poll campaign, the Lok Sabha results, to be made public on May 23 would help analyse the scale of the impact of the agrarian crisis.
The Devendra Fadnavis government seems to have factored in the intensity of the attack that the Opposition would continue even in the run up to the Assembly polls and ensuing campaign. The declaration and implementation of the new scheme before the model code of conduct gets enforced, should help Fadnavis tame the opposition and also keep up ties with Sena that had been championing the cause of farmers by speaking against its own government.
So far, more than Rs 18,000 crore have been given to the 43.40 lakh farmers under the waiver scheme. The implementation was severely criticised for the delays in dispensation and shortcomings. The debt availed till March 2016 has been serviced by the government. The extended scheme would apply to the crop loan accounts that operated in 2017 and 2018 as well.
Other than having a half share of 288 Assembly seats, as mentioned earlier, Sena president Thackeray had asked for the CM's post for the party, the condition the BJP hasn't yet agreed to on record.
Dy CM for Sena?
However, sources said the BJP is likely to offer the deputy CM's post to the Sena for the remaining term till October and also give Thackeray a couple of Cabinet berths. While this information has informally reached the Sena camp, as a senior Sena leader said, he added that rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle after the LS poll results have made some Sena leaders very hopeful of a promotion in the government. He said things could turn tricky within the Sena if the offer was accepted or rejected. "Accepting the offer would result in fierce competition between Sena hopefuls, and resentment in those who aren't given the post. Rejecting it would mean the chief doesn't want any deserving candidate elevated," he said.
On Tuesday evening, Thackeray, his son Aaditya, industry minister Subhash Desai and party secretary Milind Narvekar travelled to New Delhi to attend the dinner hosted for NDA partners by BJP president Amit Shah.
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