Uncertainty looms large over the cabinet expansion due to the apex court's hearing on a clutch of petitions filed by Thackeray faction and Shinde camp slated for July 20. Besides, Shinde has yet to get a green signal from the BJP bosses.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has left for Delhi for a two day visit to hold talks with Home Minister Amit Shah and a couple of other senior BJP leaders on cabinet expansion. ‘’Shinde held a late night meeting with Shah and again on Tuesday he has lined up a series of meetings to finalise the cabinet expansion. Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis were sworn in on June 30 but there is no cabinet expansion as the legislators from BJP and Shinde camp including independents and smaller parties have staked claims for the ministerial berths,’’ said a senior legislator from Shinde camp.
He recalled that Shinde and Fadnavis during their recent Delhi visit had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president JP Nadda but could not finalise their modalities of the cabinet expansion. ‘’Thereafter, Shinde and Fadnavis met and discussed the details and thereafter it was decided that Shinde will fly to Delhi and meet Shah to finalise the nature of the cabinet. In the first phase, 10 to 12 ministers comprising 5-6 each from BJP and Shiv Sena will be inducted as the monsoon session is likely to begin from August 1. After the session is concluded, Shinde will further expand his cabinet. BJP is expected to get the lion's share with 26 or 27 ministerial berths while 15 to 16 to Shinde camp,’’ he said.
Already opposition Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have lashed out at Shinde for lack of cabinet expansion especially when the state faces a major crisis due to heavy rains and floods. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut claimed that the Ek Duje Ke Liye film (referring to Shinde and Fadnavis) was a hit but it will soon go out of screen depending on the Supreme Court rulings. Further, Shiv Sena has urged the Governor not to allow Shinde to expand his cabinet till the status of MLAs is clear in the apex court.