Shiv Sena makes an U-turn


Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray arrives at Shiv Sena Bhawan in Mumbai.FILE PHOTO
Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray arrives at Shiv Sena Bhawan in Mumbai.FILE PHOTO

Burying the bitterness of the recent past, the opposition Shiv Sena has decided to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced here Thursday.

The state cabinet will be expanded Friday to include 10 Shiv Sena ministers, he said.

This is the first instance in Maharashtra where an opposition party has virtually joined the ruling party in an alliance government.

According to the new arrangement, the Shiv Sena will get five cabinet ministers and seven ministers of state, Fadnavis said at a joint media address by top leaders of the two parties.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai said that the two parties have decided to come together again and run a stable government in the state as per the mandate of the people.

The two parties – allies for 25 years – split Sep 25 after a bitter spat and fought the last assembly elections separately.

“The decision has been taken respecting the public sentiments in this context and we have decided to form the alliance government,” Fadnavis added, putting the lid on over two months of speculation whether the two parties would unite.

The names of all the ministers – from both parties – will be finalised by Thursday evening, and the swearing-in ceremony will be held Friday as the government readies for its first full-fledged winter session of the legislature, starting in Nagpur from Monday.

According to indications, the 10-member Fadnavis government will be expanded to include 10 Sena ministers and another 8-10 from the BJP.

A decision on including other smaller alliance partners in the cabinet would be taken in due course, Fadnavis said.

“Despite all ups and downs, the two parties had remained together for the past 25 years. Owing to certain reasons, we had drifted (apart). Now, we are allies again as it is based on common principles and ideology,” the chief minister said.

He reiterated that there will not be a post of deputy chief minister in his government, scotching all Sena hopes of bagging the post. However, Sena has been offered two more ministerial berths, taking the total to 12.

Fadnavis also announced that the two parties will contest together all future elections at panchayat, municipal councils and corporations, indicating that the re-alliance was for a long term.

In the first SS-BJP government in 1995-99, the Shiv Sena held the post of chief minister and the BJP had the deputy chief minister’s post.

In the October elections, the BJP emerged as the single largest party with an effective strength of 122 in the 288-member assembly while the Shiv Sena came second with 63 lawmakers and chose to sit in the opposition.

The Congress stood third with 42 legislators and Nationalist Congress Party – which had expressed unconditional, external support to the Fadnavis ministry – secured 41 seats, with the rest going to Independents and smaller parties.