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Shiv Sena upset over being given just a single cabinet berth

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 - 7:30am IST | Agency: dna

Shiv Sena, BJP's oldest and most natural ally in the NDA, is upset at the Modi government for giving it only one ministerial berth – party MP Anant Geete was included in the cabinet on Monday.

However, the Sena hopes that more men from the party will be inducted in the cabinet when its promised expansion takes place later.

Sena president Uddhav Thackeray laid days of speculations to rest by attending Modi's swearing-in, his umbrage to the presence of Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif notwithstanding.

However, speaking on condition of anonymity, Sena sources said they were miffed at what they claimed was an increasingly big-brother attitude by the BJP and lack of communication from its ally regarding cabinet formation.

In 1999, the Sena, which had 15 MPs, had three ministers, and the post of the Lok Sabha speaker. This time, with 18 MPs, the Sena wants a larger share, with at least four berths, especially in view of the state assembly polls due later this year. But Sena leaders fear that the BJP, which crossed the halfway mark, may be unwilling to yield.

Maharashtra has seen six leaders in the council of ministers with former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde (Beed), former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur) and Geete being sworn in as cabinet ministers, while Raosaheb Danve Patil (Jalna), Piyush Goel, Prakash Jawadekar will be ministers of state.

Sources said names of many Sena MPs were doing the rounds for ministerial berths. Senior leader Manohar Joshi, a former chief minister of Maharashtra and ex-Lok Sabha speaker, is also said to be eager for a gubernatorial post.

"There was no communication from the BJP's end regarding cabinet formation,"rued a senior Sena leader, who admitted that they were concerned at a resurgent BJP under Modi trying to push them into the role of a junior partner in the saffron alliance.

He added that this was one of the reasons behind Uddhav's perceived reluctance to attend the swearing-in, the other being Sharif's presence. The Sena is opposed to sports and cultural ties with Pakistan on the grounds that it is sponsoring terrorism on Indian soil.

The Shiv Sena, which has a much broader political and social base as compared to the BJP, had always dominated the saffron alliance. However, BJP leaders are trying to corner the Sena in the run up to the assembly polls, and extract a larger share of winnable seats for a greater part of the power pie and the chief ministerial chair. The pitch may be queered further for the Sena as it lost its party supremo Bal Thackeray in 2012. BJP leaders admit that the Sena's presence enforces a natural restriction on the socio-political expansion of the party, which has an urban, middle class image.

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