Mumbai: Seems a happy year-ending is not on the cards for Shiv Sena, with New Year eve witnessing senior members of the party coming out in dissent, expressing their dismay over the way the Uddhav-led MVA cabinet has been expanded.
The year 2019 saw the resurgence of Sena, as it broke away with its three-decade-old ally, BJP, to form the government with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
However, on Monday it came as a surprise as many of the faces who were allotted the ministerial berths were new, while the old horses were slighted by the party. This includes former ministers Diwakar Raote, Ramdas Kadam, Ravindra Waikar and Deepak Kesarkar.
There were speculations that Thackeray-led government will assign the senior leaders with the responsibility of party's organisational works as elections to 25 zila parishad and 10 municipal corporations including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) civic elections are due between 2020 and 2022.
Speaking exclusively to the Free Press Journal, former cabinet minister and senior Sena leader, Ravindra Waikar didn't hide his displeasure. “In the previous government, I was not allowed to take a number of calls as Sena didn't have the upper-hand. But now that we are in power, unfortunately, I did not find a place in the cabinet,” said Waikar.
Waikar, however, hastened to add that being a Shiv Sainik he doesn't aspire to hold a post.
“It's the decision of the party high command to not include me in the cabinet. I will have to accept it. But not being a minister will not prevent me from working for the people,” said the senior leader.
Four-time MLA and former minister of transport, Diwakar Raote highlighted the importance of having experienced members in the ministry. The senior Sena leader stated he feels alongside the new faces who have been given charge experience leaders should also have been inducted in the cabinet to maintain proper equilibrium.
“It's good to see young people being given the responsibility of running the government. However I feel there is a need to have experienced brains in the cabinet for proper guidance,” said Raote.
The senior leader further stated just because the senior leaders are being ousted from the cabinet, they shouldn't be taken for granted, as there is room for respect for everyone.
“We are sitting outside the cabinet that doesn't mean we should be taken for granted. All our life we have worked for the party and aspire to do the same even if we are not ministers anymore,” added Raote.
Former minister of finance and planning, Deepak Kesarkar stated he accepts the decision of the party with grace and in the new days will continue to work on in the planning and developing of financial schemes which will be aimed to double the per-capita income at a district level.
“Even if I am not part of the ministry I will continue to work on plans and schemes which will benefit the state at a district level,” said Kesarkar.
The former finance minister is also known to be one of the few politicians with a clean record. In a recent survey conducted by a private agency, MOE Kesarkar has been ranked first on the basis of performance among the other cabinet ministers.
“I have worked with the best of my abilities with utmost honesty. I looked after the finance ministry for the five years and no allegations were made against me and I am satisfied with my own performance,” added the senior Sena leader.