The more than generous representation to the state in the Union cabinet, especially when compared with Rajasthan and Gujarat, points to the BJP’s strategy to wrest Maharashtra from the Congress-NCP.

Mumbai : With an eye on the assembly polls in October, Maharashtra has been rewarded with as many as five berths in the Union cabinet.

While Nitin Gadkari, Gopinath Munde of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena are of

cabinet rank, Prakash Javdekar is Minister of State (MoS) with independent charge and Raosaheb Danve of Jalna is Minister of State. A farmer,

Danve (59), is a three-time MP from Jalna in Maharashtra.

If Najma Heptullah and Piyush Goyal, both of whom have houses in Mumbai, are considered, the number goes up to seven. Heptullah, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, is a cabinet minister whereas Goyal, a Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra, is a MoS with independent charge.

And although Smriti Irani is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, she lives in Mumbai. Her permanent address is given as Lokhandwala, Andheri in Mumbai.

Maharashtra surprised everybody this time by giving 42 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats to the ‘Mahayuti’, led the Sena-BJP combine. Enthused by the leads over the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party in most assembly segments, the BJP and Sena are going all out to win the state assembly elections.

The more than generous representation to the state in the Union cabinet, especially when compared with Rajasthan and Gujarat, points to the BJP’s strategy to wrest Maharashtra from the Congress-NCP.

The Shiv Sena, which gave the NDA 21 seats, was hoping for a better representation in the cabinet so that it could get a fillip in the state polls but that was not to be.

Gopinath Munde: A former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Munde, the OBC face of BJP in the state, makes his entry in the Union cabinet for the first time. Munde, who was the Deputy Leader of Opposition in 15th Lok Sabha, won from Beed seat. A five time MLA, Munde’s heart has always been in the state politics and harbours the ambition of becoming first BJP Chief Minister of Maharashtra. A brother-in-law of slain BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, Munde hails from a poor family in the backward Marathwada region. A general secretary of the party at national level, he was Chairman of the Committee on Chemicals and Fertilisers in last Lok Sabha.     He has wife and three daughters and one of them- Pankaja Palave- represents the Parli assembly seat.

Anant Geete: A six-time MP, Geete, an MP from Raigad, is Uddhav’s Thackeray’s trusted lieutenant in Delhi. He defeated Sunil Tatkare, a NCP strongman from North Konkan and a senior minister in the Maharashtra government, by a slender margin o f 2,110 votes.

In the Vajpayee’s government regime, he was MoS (Finance), but was soon elevated to the rank of Cabinet Minister and was given an important Power portfolio.

PRAKASH JAVADEKAR: One of the most visible faces of BJP on television, Javadekar is considered close to former party president Nitin Gadkari. A former banker, Javadekar, 63, had his grooming in politics in Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students wing of RSS.

He was a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council for two terms from 1990 to 2002 before being elected to Rajya Sabha in 2008. Javadekar is a BJP spokesperson and party’s in-charge of Andhra Pradesh. He was instrumental in striking a deal with Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP.

Piyush Goyal: Goyal, 49, is the BJP treasurer and considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is son of senior BJP leader Vedprakash Goyal, who was shipping minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and National Treasurer of the BJP for over two decades.

A rank-holder CA, Goyal is well-versed with economic issues and has been on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and the Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Defence during his stint as Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra.  He also heads the BJP’s Information Communication Campaign Committee that oversees all efforts of the party through internet, mobile and other social media.

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