Mumbai: The denial of ministerial berths to certain Shiv Sena leaders in Monday’s Cabinet expansion has triggered a considerable amount of discontent and resentment.
Five-term Sena MP Bhavana Gawali on Tuesday told the media that she was unhappy over an MLA, Sanjay Rathod, getting a berth in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Cabinet.
The Sena picked Rathod, who represents Digras in Yavatmal, spurring discontentment among leaders coming from the economically backward region of Vidarbha.
Gawali, who represents Yavatmal-Washim seat in the Lok Sabha, said that she was expecting the induction of Sanjay Raimulkar and Sandeep Bajoria from western parts of Vidarbha.
“We had also given a written memorandum to Shiv Sena chief and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. Despite pleading for this (their appointment), the portfolio has gone to someone else. As a result, we are really disappointed,” the parliamentarian said.
The Sena also did not include leaders such as Ramdas Kadam, Diwakar Raote, Ravindra Waikar, Deepak Kesarkar and Tanaji Sawant in the new council of ministers during the expansion on Monday. Even the architect of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, skipped the ceremony.
An editorial in Saamana stated that the party had to accommodate three independents — Bachchu Kadu, Shankarrao Gadakh and Rajendra Yadravkar — in the council of ministers, resulting in many Sainiks losing out on the opportunity to serve in the Cabinet.
The Sena mouthpiece also lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for boycotting the swearing-in ceremony on Monday. “It is unfortunate that the Leader of Opposition decided to boycott the swearing-in ceremony. Even during the winter session, the Opposition created pandemonium and staged walkouts,” the editorial noted.
“Now after a month, the state has a full government of 43 ministers, and Fadnavis should not try to cast a bad omen. He and his party should not try to oppose the government just for the sake of opposing it,” the editorial added.
Referring to the induction of first-term MLA Aaditya Thackeray in the Cabinet, the editorial said that the junior Thackeray could execute his plans for crucial sectors like education, health, sports, tourism and environment.
Similarly, some voices of resentment can be heard in the Congress camp as well with at least one senior leader hoping that the party brass takes note of the feeling that loyalists are being ignored at a time when they deserved an opportunity.
Seniors like Ashok Chavan, Vijay Wadettiwar and Sunil Kedar were among 10 ministers of the Congress who found place in the new government.
However, choice of certain leaders as ministers seems to have not gone down well with a section of the state Congress unit.
A senior Congress leader on Tuesday questioned integrity of MLAs Aslam Sheikh and Vishwajit Kadam who were inducted into the new Cabinet. While Sheikh took oath as a Cabinet minister, Kadam as minister of state (MoS).
“Both Sheikh and Kadam were reportedly keen to join the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls held in October this year. They had even met with the then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Sheikh was even assured a ticket by the BJP, but it didn’t materialise which forced Sheikh to stay back in the Congress,” the party leader told PTI.
Induction of Kadam, who is one of the five working presidents of the state Congress, has also ruffled feathers of some leaders who believe that the MLA from western Maharashtra was chosen over party loyalist Sangram Thopte, a three time MLA from Pune district.
Kadam had first won the bypoll to Palus Kadegaon seat in Sangli district after the death of his father and former Congress minister Patangrao Kadam. He was re-elected from the seat in the October 2019 Assembly elections.
“Why was Sangram Thopte being sidelined when the fact is that he is senior to Kadam?” the leader asked. He said the Thoptes have been traditional loyalists of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “Sonia Gandhi’s first rally in Maharashtra's Nandurbar after she became the party chief was organised by Sangram’s father Anantrao Thopte,” the leader recalled.