Mumbai, (The Hindu): Clearly cut-up over being left out of the Union Cabinet in the reshuffle on Sunday, the Shiv Sena said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), of which it is a part, is ‘almost dead’ and the BJP remembers it only when it needs support.
While expanding his Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose new faces from the BJP only, leaving out all other coalition partners. Reports from New Delhi suggested other parties may get a chance in next cabinet expansion. The Sena chose to stay away from the swearing-in ceremony for newly-elected ministers. “The reshuffle is a game of figures for political reasons and we will take an appropriate stand at the right time,” Mr. Raut said.
On Saturday, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had said he had not been contacted by New Delhi regarding the reshuffle, adding his party was not interested in a ministerial berth. “I’ve got news about the Cabinet expansion only from the media. I’ve not enquired about it [with the central BJP leadership]. Neither have I received communication from anybody nor are we hungry for power. Today everyone is busy with the Cabinet expansion at the Centre. However, we are only busy about ensuring the health of Mumbai citizens [after the deluge earlier this week],” Mr. Thackeray told reporters.
Though a long-time ally, the Sena has often been at loggerheads with the BJP. Prior to Sunday’s reshuffle, it had only one representative in Mr. Modi’s Council of Ministers: Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete. The “BJP-led NDA exists only on paper. Whenever BJP wants some support, like for the presidential election or in Parliament, it remembers us,” Mr. Raut, said. “The NDA is almost dead; it is restricted to meetings of allied parties.”
On Friday, Sena sources had told The Hindu that the party expects at least one additional cabinet berth. An MP, who declined to be named, had said talks between the party leaderships are likely on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was satisfied with the cabinet reshuffle, adding senior party leader Nitin Gadkari getting the Water Resources ministry would boost incomplete and delayed irrigation projects in the State. He also thanked Suresh Prabhu, who held the Railway portfolio prior to the reshuffle, for speeding up rail projects in Maharashtra. He said newly-appointed Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is also from the State, and will ensure rail projects are completed as early as possible.
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