New Delhi : The ruling NDA’s second largest constituent, the Shiv Sena, is upset over the poor representation it got in the new Narendra Modi government, as well as the heavy industries portfolio allocated to party representative Anant Geete.
Modi has rewarded five of the BJP’s 12 allies, which found a representation in the Lok Sabha, with slots in his ministry. These include, besides the Shiv Sena, the Telugu Desam Party, the Lok Janshakti Party, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his 18 Members of Parliament were in a marathon huddle at a five star hotel in Delhi when reports last trickled in. They are believed to be contemplating whether or not to accept the assigned portfolio.
As per reports, a peeved Geete did not take charge of his ministry, though all others, including Modi and his cabinet ministers, got down to work on Tuesday. Geete, the sources said, was now
awaiting instructions from Uddhav Thackeray in the matter. However, Geete attended the first meeting of the Union Cabinet. A decision is expected in the matter on Wednesday.
It is learnt that the heavy industries portfolio does not excite the Sena. The party feels the ministry will not strike a chord with the people in Maharashtra. The same portfolio was handed down to the party when it made its debut in the National Democratic Front government.
Incidentally, in the NDA government headed by prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Sena had three cabinet ministers with plum portfolios, though it had fewer MPs than it has now.
Thackeray had met Modi prior to the swearing in and sought three cabinet berths for his party. Modi, given his unassailable position, has restricted the Cabinet berths allocated to the main NDA allies, whatever their numerical strength in the Lok Sabha.
The other NDA constituent in Maharashtra, the Republican Party of India of Ramdas Athawale, has failed to secure a cabinet berth despite intense lobbying.
The strains between the two parties, ahead of the state assembly elections due by October this year, could translate into a frantic tussle for seats. The Shiv Sena and the BJP were in power in Maharashtra from 1995 to 1999 and are since in the opposition.