New Delhi: In a first sign of dissent by an ally in the Narendra Modi government that was sworn in Monday, Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete today did not assume office with sources saying he would not join Wednesday either.
Geete is said to be unhappy with the heavy industries ministry that has been allocated to him. With 18 seats from Maharashtra in the 16th Lok Sabha, Shiv Sena is Bharatiya Janata Party’s biggest partner. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh with 16 seats and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party in Bihar with six seats are behind Shiv Sena.
Shiv Sena itself may be feeling let down by the allocation since despite its 18 seats, it has been put at par with the rest of the BJP allies, all of whom have got one berth each in the 45-member council.
Geete may also be feeling short changed since Paswan has been allocated food and civil supplies, and TDP’s Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati given charge of civil aviation.
The council of ministers is also the smallest in many decades with the last government of Manmohan Singh having 71 ministers.
The BJP, with 282 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, enjoys absolute majority and thus needs no outside support. At the same time, the BJP does not enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha and needs support of allies to get legislations through.
Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab have been BJP’s oldest partners in the National Democratic Alliance.
Geete may be keeping away but most of his other colleagues assumed office today. This includes Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal. Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is not in the capital currently and is expected to join Wednesday.