Amid growing discontent among sections of the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies, the Shiv Sena on Thursday admitted that there was a tussle among senior leaders of the three ruling alliance parties in Maharashtra for key Cabinet berths, and said that some MLAs could not be inducted as ministers because the list of “probables” was huge.
The Sena also pointed out an incident where some people vandalised the Congress office in Pune to protest against non-inclusion of party MLA Sangram Thopte in the ministry.
“The Congress used to call Shiv Sena’s protests as ‘rada culture’ (hooliganism), but what Mr Thopte’s alleged supporters did was exactly the same. This does not suit the ‘Congress culture’,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.
After the cabinet expansion in Maharashtra, Pune MLA Sangram Thopte’s supporters ransacked the Congress office as he was denied a cabinet berth.
The supporters of Thopte have written to interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, while some have shown a rebellious attitude towards the party.
Other MLAs who have not gone public have listed their grievances before the party. Some of the MLAs have said that they will meet Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to apprise them of the situation.
Earlier on Tuesday, Congress ministers accompanied by Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal and party secretary Ashish Dua, met Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and apparently talked about the dissent.
Senior ministers, including Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan who took oath on Monday, also met the top leadership.
The Congress in the state has been facing internal differences with some senior leaders saying that they have been ignored in the cabinet expansion.
However, it is not just the Congress leaders who are upset with the Cabinet expansion.
NCP’s four-time MLA Prakash Solanke from Majalgaon in Beed had threatened to quit his seat late on Monday night, claiming he was disgusted with politics and would only concentrate on social work henceforth.
Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut – who played a monumental role in delivering the MVA government – was allegedly sulking as his two-term MLA brother from Mumbai Sunil Raut was not made a minister.
However, both the brothers late on Monday dismissed all media speculation and said there was nothing amiss, and that the party was above any post.
Several senior Sena men like Ramdas Kadam, Ravindra Waikar, Diwakar Raote, Deepak Kesarkar and Tanaji Sawant – all ex-ministers were also dropped this time.
Sanjay Raut attributed this to the limited choices before the party and its inclination to give chance to new and younger faces in the government.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expanded his cabinet by inducting 35 ministers — including his son Aditya Thackeray — comprising 25 of Cabinet and 10 of Minister of State rank. For the first time since 2014, the ministry has a staggering four Muslim ministers.
Nationalist Congress Party senior leader was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister for a record fourth time — and a second time in two months.
“The Cabinet expansion was, indeed, delayed but it finally happened. There were some sparks of disappointment from those who could not make the cut, but the list of probables was huge,” the Shiv Sena said in Saamana.
It said the opposition BJP may be “bubbling” over such developments, but even the previous Devendra Fadnavis government was no exception to such discontent during its Cabinet expansions.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party also said it kept its word by inducting three Independents, who extended support to the Shiv Sena, unlike the Congress and NCP.
“A strong and experienced Cabinet is in power, it should be allowed to function,” the Sena said.
On Shiv Sena MLA Bhaskar Jadhav expressing “shock” over his exclusion from the ministry, the Marathi daily said Cabinet berth was “not promised” to anyone, including Jadhav, who joined the Thackeray-led party after quitting the NCP.”
Jadhav claimed Thackeray promised to make him Cabinet minister.
The Shiv Sena last month joined hands with the Congress and NCP, its traditional adversaries, after its alliance with the BJP collapsed over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post.
(With agency inputs)