Talking to the media in Aurangabad, Fadnavis said, we did not discuss cabinet expansion. However, he said that the long pending cabinet expansion would be done. We want to expand the cabinet. We will do it in due course.
A day after meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said not much cabinet expansion was discussed. Our meeting with Amit Shah was confined to the cooperative sector and the sugar industry. Talking to the media in Aurangabad, Fadnavis said, we did not discuss cabinet expansion. However, he said that the long pending cabinet expansion would be done. We want to expand the cabinet. We will do it in due course.
Fadnavis had met Shah along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Shinde and Fadnavis took charge of the coalition government in Maharashtra on June 30, 2022, after the former led a rebellion in the Shiv Sena, leading to a split in the party. Fifty MLAs, including 40 Shiv Sena rebels and 10 independents, joined Shinde.
Besides Shinde and Fadnavis, the Maharashtra cabinet has 18 ministers, nine from the BJP and nine from the Shinde faction. The permissible limit for the number of ministers is 43, which means there is scope to accommodate 23 new ministers. The number of candidates seeking cabinet berths in the Shinde camp is more than the number of vacancies. At least some of Shinde’s loyalists have warned that they will seek alternatives if he is denied a cabinet berth. Disappointment is also brewing within the BJP.
A senior BJP functionary said, “Ideally, two-thirds of the ministers in the cabinet should be from the BJP and one-third from the Shinde camp. BJP is the single largest party with 106 MLAs; While the Shinde faction has only 50. To prevent defections from the Shinde faction and a political crisis, both CM Shinde and deputy CM Fadnavis are being very careful about the cabinet expansion, though they say it will happen soon.