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Shiv Sena set to join BJP govt, may get 12 seats in Cabinet

Estranged partners the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena (SS) have finally reached an agreement to revive their alliance in Maharashtra. The BJP, under attack over NCP’s outside support to its government, has decided to include the Shiv Sena in the Devendra Fadnavis-led council of ministers.

The BJP has offered five cabinet  berths and seven Ministers of State (MoS) to Shiv Sena for a stable government.

Fadnavis is expected to expand his nine-member cabinet on December 5 with the induction of 10 to 12 legislators from the BJP and 12 from Shiv Sena. The expansion, which was slated for December 3, has been postponed due to three-day mourning following the death of Maharashtra’s former chief minister AR Antulay.

Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray are expected to make a formal announcement in a day or two. Sena leader Eknath Shinde, who took over on November 12 as the Leader of Opposition, will resign from the post.

BJP has 121 lawmakers with support of one MLA of Rashtriya Samaj Party while Shiv Sena’s strength is 63. Fadnavis had won confidence motion during the trust vote and had claimed to have mobilised support of 140 legislators.

BJP high command was quite keen for a patch-up ahead of winter session starting from December 8. However, a senior BJP leader told Business Standard, “Utterances made by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde about Sena playing a role of vigilant opposition were mere posturing.”

Sena MP Anil Desai, after his meeting with Uddhav and other party leaders this afternoon, said,”Party has received BJP’s proposal and Uddhav will discuss with Fadnavis and take a final call. So far party has not taken any decision on joining the BJP led government in the state.”

However, Fadnavis in the late evening  confirmed that discussions with Sena were underway. He announced that a BJP-Shiv Sena  alliance government will soon be a reality. He added the cabinet expansion will take place on December 5. BJP and Shiv Sena broke their 25-year-old alliance on September 25 due to differences over seat adjustment in the assembly poll.

Uddhav and couple of Sena leaders led scathing attack against BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah during and after assembly poll.

Simultaneously, back channel negotiations were on to revive the alliance though BJP flatly refused to give the post of deputy chief minister and key ministries including home, finance and revenue to Shiv Sena. However, Sena may be given the public works, energy and water conservation ministries.

Sena sources said  senior party leader Subhash Desai, who lost assembly poll along with Divakar Raote,  Eknath Shinde, Vijay Shivthare are likely to be sworn in as cabinet ministers. 

Besides, Sanjay Rathod (Vidarbha), Sanjay Shirsat (Marathwada) and Vaibhav Naik, the Konkan MLA who defeated Congress leader Narayan Rane in the assembly elections, former Mumbai mayor  Sunil Prabhu and legislator Neelam Gorhe may be inducted as ministers of state.

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