Maha CM Eknath Shinde Unwell; Fadnavis in Delhi to Meet BJP Top Brass Ahead of Cabinet Expansion

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Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis will be in Delhi tonight and is likely to meet top BJP leaders, including Amit Shah, in the backdrop of the much-awaited state cabinet expansion, which may happen tomorrow, August 5, sources said.

Eknath Shinde, whose rebellion led to the fall of the Uddhav Thackeray government, was sworn in as the chief minister and Fadnavis as his deputy on June 30 but since then there has been no induction of ministers.

Shinde couldn’t accompany Fadnavis to Delhi as he is stated to be unwell and has been resting at his Mumbai bungalow. Shinde had on August 2 said that the cabinet expansion would happen “soon”. At present, only Shinde and Fadnavis are members of the cabinet.

According to sources, eight members, each from the BJP and the Shinde camp of Shiv Sena, are likely to take oath. Crucial portfolios such as Home are likely to stay with the BJP, sources added.

BJP leader Ashish Shelar’s name has been figuring prominently in the cabinet expansion with sources saying he is likely to be allotted a ministry. If not, Shelar may be given the charge of Maharashtra BJP chief, the sources added.

Shinde and Fadnavis had met Shah and BJP president JP Nadda on July 30. Sources had then said that Shinde was firm on the 50-50 formula in the cabinet expansion, while the BJP is adamant on a 60-40 formula. Sources also said BJP is likely to get 27 cabinet ministries while the Shinde camp will get 15 ministries.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar today said that the cabinet expansion would take place before August 15 so that guardian ministers can hoist the Tricolour in their respective districts on the 75th year of Independence.

“This August 15 is very special for our country as we are completing 75 years of Independence. The cabinet expansion ought to be completed before Independence Day so that guardian ministers can hoist the Tricolour in their respective districts,” he told reporters.

Deepak Kesarkar, a spokesperson of the Shinde-led faction, had told reporters earlier this week that “there is a possibility of Maharashtra cabinet expansion in next four days”. “This is what I have been told by senior leaders of the coalition. We need to complete the expansion process so that ministers can take briefings and face the upcoming monsoon session of the Assembly,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)

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