NEW DELHI: Amid preparations for the swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in Maharashtra even while ally Shiv Sena continues to give mixed signals, the saffron outfit is learnt to be mulling to appoint a deputy chief minister from the Maratha community.
The BJP plans to "get even" with the Shiv Sena if the ally gets the deputy CM's post, with another deputy for Fadnavis from the party ranks. "There’s a strong likelihood of the BJP going for a deputy chief minister from the Maratha community. The BJP is keen to address the leadership aspirations of the community. The party’s Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil could be the possible choice of for the post," said a senior BJP functionary.
"The BJP is keen to go the extra mile to win the support of the Maratha community, who backed the NCP in the Assembly elections," the leader added. Party leaders maintained that Patil hails from the Maratha mainland while the Sena’s legislative party leader Eknath Shinde is a Konkani Maratha, and is not seen as the community’s leader across the state.
With a Maratha deputy chief minister from the BJP ranks, the party aims to strike a caste balance in the state since Fadnavis is a Brahmin. Patil has also been a senior minister during the first term of Fadnavis, having held the key portfolio of revenue. Besides, he is known to be a confidante of BJP chief Amit Shah. Patil was appointed the BJP state unit chief a few months ago.
Meanwhile, sources said that the Raj Bhavan has made full preparations for the swearing-in of the new government. "It’s just a matter of time. It could happen soon," added the BJP functionary. The BJP is hoping that the Sena would soon pipe down confrontational soundbytes given by the party leaders.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale, who conducted a meeting of four smaller alliance partners, demanded one cabinet berth for each of them. “The Shiv Sena is certainly softening its stand and the government should be formed soon as the people have given the mandate to the grand alliance,” he said.
Athawale’s RPI(A), Mahadeo Jankar’s RSP, Sadabhau Khot’s RKP and Vinayak Mete’s Swabhiman Party had contested 14 assembly seats on BJP’s election symbol.