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Maharashtra cabinet expansion: Only 2 from Shiv Sena

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis expanded his Cabinet to add 11 more ministers to his government on Friday morning. Only two seats were given to ally Shiv Sena, which gave out a clear message on who is the boss.

As a result of the power tussle, Shiv Sena party chief Uddav Thackeray skipped the oath taking ceremony, though Arjun Khotkar and Gulabrao Patil of the Shiv Sena took their oaths as planned. The Fadnavis-led cabinet now consists of five BJP leaders and one from ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksh.

This move by Fadnavis has extinguished Sena’s hope of being compensated for getting no additional ministry in the Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Miniser Narendra Modi earlier this week. The Sena wanted one of its existing Ministers of State (MoS) to be promoted to Cabinet rank, a demand turned down by the chief minister. The Cabinet expansion was triggered to fill the vacancies created after the resignation of Maharasthra’s most senior minister Eknath Khadse over corruption charges; he handed 10 portfolios, which was taken over temporarily by Fadnavis.

The Shiv Sena has one minister at the Centre, Anant Geete, Union minister for heavy industries. The party minced no words when it attacked the already fragile relationship with the BJP, saying, it was “hurt” at the treatment meted out to it and asked if Modi had not found “any talented person in the Sena”.

The Shiv Sena has lost no opportunity in attacking its ally ever since the Maharashtra Assembly elections in 2014,  that reversed their roles in the alliance with the BJP winning more seats. The Sena is regularly seen attacking the BJP and the Prime Minister, the most recent being a series of posters released by the Sena firing salvos at Modi.

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