Under pressure to expand team, Maharashtra CM again air-dashes to Delhi
Mumbai, July 27, 2022
Under pressure to expand the cabinet from his restless flock of 50 MLAs and the upcoming Supreme Court hearing pertaining to disqualification proceedings, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday again rushed to New Delhi.
Visiting the national capital for at least the fifth time in the 28 days since he took office, Shinde is likely to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party President J. P. Nadda and other leaders in the capital.
However, BJP's Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis is not accompanying him on this trip to New Delhi, fueling fresh speculation in political circles.
Shinde faces a daunting challenge, balancing the clamour for ministerial berths from the rebel group which left the Shiv Sena with him in June and the many senior hopefuls from the BJP side which has a larger strength.
The repeated postponement of the cabinet expansion has also pushed back the Maharashtra Legislature Monsoon Session - normally held in July - to sometime in August.
There are also major concerns as many districts in the state have been ravaged with floods and the relief and rehabilitation packages have not yet been finalised.
These delays, coupled with the ensuing SC hearing on August 1, has unnerved the new regime and attracted huge flak from the opposition Nationalist Congress Party-Congress-Shiv Sena leaders.
Leader of Opposition, NCP's Ajit Pawar said that though Shinde is the CM, "it's the BJP's government" and for everything, the CM has to get clearance from Delhi.
Ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took a swipe by comparing Shinde-Fadnavis to a Dev Anand blockbuster, "Hum Dono", and the superhit song from "Bobby" film - "Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Bandh Ho".
"The two are locked in the room and the key is lost.. When people at the 'top' approve, the cabinet will be expanded," added Thackeray.
NCP's chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase wondered why there's a reluctance to expand the cabinet, especially when the state is reeling under heavy rains, over eight lakh hectares of farmlands have been hit and farmers are in sorrow due to the downpour.
Political circles rule out any possibility of the Shinde-Fadnavis team being expanded in view of the uncertainties till the apex court verdict is delivered on Monday.
After the MVA government collapsed with Thackeray's resignation on June 29, Shinde-Fadnavis were sworn-in on June 30 and are functioning as a two-man cabinet for the past 28 days now.