MUMBAI: There is major unrest within the Shiv Sena with at least 12 MLAs contemplating to quit the party over non-inclusion of certain leaders in the cabinet. There is also a question mark over the stand of its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut after his Facebook post.
Though leaders from the Congress as well as the NCP said that the resentment within their parties has been contained, the portfolio allocations are still awaited. About a month after forming the government, Thackeray expanded the cabinet on Monday.
However, he had to exclude several of his party leaders including many who were ministers in the cabinet under Devendra Fadnavis. This is said to have led to widespread resentment within the party. While sources said that the disgruntled MLAs would soon meet Thackeray, queries at Thackeray’s office revealed that no appointment has been sought by them.
The legislators are unhappy over NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s imprint on the cabinet expansion. Sources said that they are also said to be dissatisfied about all important departments being given to the NCP.
While Bhaskar Jadhav from Chiplun, who had recently joined the Shiv Sena after quitting the NCP, had blamed Thackeray for not keeping his promise, another former minister Tanaji Sawant too is said to be unhappy due to his non-inclusion in the cabinet.
Sawant was in charge of party work in Solapur and Osmanabad districts and hence party leaders from Solapur held a meeting on Wednesday demanding a ministerial berth for him. "The meeting is not against anyone but to request the party leadership to consider Mr Sawant for a ministerial berth," said party district head Lakshman Thonge at the meeting.
Yavatmal-Washim MP Bhawana Gavli and Thane MLA Pratap Sarnaik too have expressed their resentment over the choice of leaders for cabinet formation.
While Raut had earlier clarified before the media that he is not unhappy with the party, his Facebook post on Wednesday led to a new row. "People who present you with togetherness, time and devotion always need to preserved," said his Facebook post with a suggestive photograph showing sand slipping out of a fist.
After the post was being interpreted as an expression of his resentment, he pulled it down. However, he didn’t give any explanation this time and party insiders said it indicated that all is not well between him and Thackeray. Raut had also skipped the cabinet expansion ceremony.
Meanwhile, Thackeray had a meeting with state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and former CM Ashok Chavan on Wednesday. While both are his cabinet colleagues now, they reportedly had differences over portfolios. The Congress is also said to have demanded additional portfolios which had gone to other parties during initial negotiations.
While Thorat currently holds the revenue department, the Congress has reportedly demanded the agriculture department which the Shiv Sena currently holds. The Congress contended that it needs to hold departments that have a direct grassroot connection in rural areas.
Due to the inclusion of Chavan, the party also sought to swap certain departments. Chavan, a former CM, is said to have indicated that he would like to hold revenue or public works. However, sources said that Chavan’s party colleague Dr Nitin Raut holds the public works portfolio and doesn’t want to part with it.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Thorat said that the dissatisfaction within the party has been contained and the announcement on portfolio allocation can be expected anytime.
Earlier in the day, Thorat said that he spoke to the disgruntled MLA from Bhor in Pune, Sabgram Jagtap, adding, "He will get his due as the Congress is a family."