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New friends with benefits: Will BJP give JDU 2 seats and just one to Shiv Sena in the Cabinet rejig?

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 2 September 2017, 19:13 IST
(Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

They are one of the oldest partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). They have been sharing power with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) all along. Though in power, the Shiv Sena has been behaving like they are the opposition. The party has not lost any single opportunity to criticise BJP leaders. This has been Shiv Sena's strategy to keep itself relevant after being forced to play second fiddle – something it is not used to at all.

Traditionally, Shiv Sena had been the big brother in the NDA as far as Maharashtra is concerned. Every time either the State or Central Cabinet is in the offing, the Shiv Sena starts making its presence felt more aggressively.

While the Shiv Sena is using pressure tactics to get the maximum share in the upcoming reshuffle, at the same time, the leadership is facing steep opposition to the name they have picked to be included in the Cabinet.

This time, it has once again resorted to the same practice ahead of Union Cabinet reshuffle. Speculations are rife that the Janata Dal United (JDU), the new partner in NDA, will get two berths in the Union Cabinet and this has angered the Shiv Sena.

“This is not at all acceptable. We have been with the NDA for more than 25 years. JDU has just joined the alliance and they are getting more ministries than us. This is an insult of the long standing alliance. We stood with the BJP through thick and thin, and still we are being meted out such treatment,” said a senior Shiv Sena leader who did not wish to be named.

The BJP leaders have reacted sharply to the so-called anger of the Shiv Sena leaders.

“Shiv Sena have been behaving like an enemy since the beginning. Going by the behaviour and arrogance of their leaders, Shiv Sena don’t deserve even one ministerial berth,” said a senior BJP leader.

Shiv Sena leader and editor of party mouthpiece Saamna Sanjay Raut has been criticising BJP and its leaders including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the most filthy language possible. It was ignored in the interest of the alliance and the stability of the Maharashtra government, the BJP leader said.

“Given their behaviour over last three years, especially during the civic polls at Mumbai, Shiv Sena leaders should feel fortunate that it is being offered one ministry,” said the leader.

“However, all these talks are mere speculations. Shiv Sena leaders should directly contact party president Amit Shah or Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get clarification,” he added.

This time, however, Shiv Sena leaders are facing strong opposition to the recommendation of Anil Desai for a ministerial berth in the Union Cabinet.

“We have been contesting Lok Sabha elections and winning them consistently for more than two terms. Desai is a Rajya Sabha MP, who managed a back door entry into the House. Our demand is that anyone from the Lok Sabha MPs should be included in the Union Cabinet. The sentiments of the Lok Sabha MPs have been conveyed to the party leadership,” said a Shiv Sena MP on condition of anonymity.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande admitted that Lok Sabha MPs of the party were unhappy with the decision of the party leadership to recommend Anil Desai.

“There is a bit of discontent among the party MPs. They had opposed the recommendation of Anil Desai during 2014 as well,” Kayande said.

However, she added that the party has not yet been informed about the inclusion of any MP in the Cabinet.

“There are talks about the inclusion of one of our MPs in the central government. But no one from the BJP has contacted us to propose the same. We will wait till we get the word,” Kayande said.

First published: 2 September 2017, 19:13 IST