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Maharashtra Shiv Sena, BJP leaders eye cabinet berths in new government

Friday, 16 May 2014 - 7:00am IST | Agency: dna

Munde, Gadkari, Somaiya, Gite in race for plum posts in NDA govt

With the BJP-led NDA expecting a big win in the Lok Sabha polls, names of prominent Shiv Sena and BJP leaders from Maharashtra are doing the rounds for probable berths in a Narendra Modi-led cabinet depending on their fate at the hustings.

Maharashtrian leaders may also get gubernatorial appointments.

A senior BJP leader told dna that apart from Gopinath Munde, who is the party's tallest leader in Maharashtra, former BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Kirit Somaiya are among those in contention for ministerial berths apart from Rajya Sabha MP Piyush Goel, who is the party's national treasurer and the son of veteran leaders Vedprakash and Chandrakanta Goel.

While Munde (Beed) and Gadkari (Nagpur) may be considered for cabinet berths for agriculture and surface transport or railways respectively, Somaiya, who is fighting from Mumbai North East, could be accommodated as a minister of state.

The BJP leader claimed that Munde, who was sulking before the meeting of state BJP leaders on Wednesday, and was eventually brought around by senior leaders, was upset at the lack of clarity over his probable role at the Centre.

"Instead of fresh faces, we may go in for experienced ones," the BJP leader said, adding that they needed to ensure a healthy representation from Maharashtra at the Centre considering the state assembly polls due later this year.

A senior Sena leader said they too were likely to zero down on experienced faces for berths in the council of ministers. Another Shiv Sena leader said that apart from Anant Gite, who was the Union power minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet and is contesting for a sixth term in the Lok Sabha from Raigad, Anandrao Adsul, who is in the fray from Amravati and was a minister of state for finance in the erstwhile NDA government, Aurangabad MP Chandrakant Khaire, Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil (Shirur), Bhawana Gawli Surve (Yavatmal- Washim) and Rajya Sabha MP and industrialist Rajkumar Dhoot are among the names in contention from the Sena.

In the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet from 1999 to 2004, the Shiv Sena, which had 15 Lok Sabha MPs then, had one cabinet berth and two ministers of state. "Though these names are in circulation, much depends on the fate of these candidates in the polls. Party chief Uddhav Thackeray may take a final decision on nominating Sena MPs for cabinet berths," said a senior Shiv Sena leader.

It is said that former Sena MP Suresh Prabhu, who was a minister in the Vajpayee cabinet and later headed the task force on the interlinking of rivers, may be considered for a role in the government.

Senior Sena leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi, who has also been the chief minister of Maharashtra, may also be considered for an appointment as a Governor. Republican Party of India (Athavale) chief and Dalit leader Ramdas Athavale, who was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha from the BJP's quota is also eager for a cabinet berth.

Athavale, who has a mass following among Buddhist Dalits, has entered into a rainbow coalition with his erstwhile foes in the saffron allies in 2012 and may be a crucial ally during the assembly elections.

Surendra Jondhale, professor, department of civics and politics, University of Mumbai, pointed out that after a BJP-led NDA government took charge at the Centre, power equations between the BJP and the Shiv Sena could change in Maharashtra due to the emergence of Modi's leadership.

The Sena has been the dominant ally in Maharashtra on which the BJP has been piggybacking upon in some areas especially in the hinterlands. "The BJP will start asserting itself and dictate terms to the Shiv Sena," said Jondhale, adding that the BJP was likely to put its foot down on issues like the distribution of seats for the assembly polls and including new allies in the Mahayuti.

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