Modi 3.0 Cabinet | How dismal performance of Shinde Sena, Ajit Pawars NCP cost them dear
The Shinde Sena and Ajit Pawar's NCP combined have only seven MPs, meaning their withdrawal will not affect the government. | File photo

Modi 3.0 Cabinet | How dismal performance of Shinde Sena, Ajit Pawar's NCP cost them dear

Both the parties haven’t got the share of cabinet berths they expected in the NDA government at the Centre and are now eyeing cabinet expansion

With the Shiv Sena led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the Ajit Pawar-led NCP failing to impress with their performance in the Lok Sabha elections, both the parties haven’t got the share of cabinet berths they expected in the NDA government at the Centre. Now, the two parties have said they will wait for the cabinet expansion to be “suitably accommodated”.

A total of 71 MPs were sworn after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took oath for the third consecutive third time on Sunday. A majority of them were from the BJP and a handful from allied parties, including ‘kingmakers’ N Chandrababu Naidu's TDP and Nitish Kumar's JDU. Only five out of them were from Maharashtra where the NDA ended up bagging only 17 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats. This was a big decline as compared to its 41 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Of these, the BJP had bagged 23 seats while 18 went to the undivided Shiv Sena.

Four ministers from BJP

Of those five ministers from Maharashtra, four are from the BJP. The fifth is the Shinde Sena's Prataprao Jadhav, who was sworn in as a junior minister, albeit with independent charge. A similar offer had been made to Praful Patel of Ajit Pawar’s NCP but that was refused as a “demotion”.

The NCP contended that Patel, as a former cabinet minister, is too senior a figure to hold an junior minister's post. Ajit Pawar told reporters in Delhi that his party is “ready to wait” for that cabinet berth. “We have one Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha MP (Sunil Tatkare and Praful Patel). In the coming months, we will have two more Rajya Sabha MPs. Then we will have four MPs and should get a cabinet berth. We are ready to wait but want a cabinet berth,” he said.

Patel also made no bones about the reason behind declining the MoS offer as he told reporters, “I was earlier cabinet minister (in the Congress-led UPA government and being made MoS (Minister of State) is a demotion.” A Rajya Sabha MP now, Patel was Minister of Heavy Industries from 2011 to 2014. “The BJP told us to wait for a few days... said they will take remedial measures,” he said.

Shinde sought 3 berths

Meanwhile, the Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction had demanded three posts, one in the cabinet and two junior minister berths. However, in the BJP’s bid to accommodate 14 allies who won Lok Sabha seats and played their role in ensuring a third term for the party, Shinde Sena got just one MoS post. Though Shinde has accepted the post offered right now, he said that they expect their “share” in the next cabinet expansion.

It would be interesting to see how the BJP tries to fulfil the aspirations of its Maharashtra allies in view of the fact that Union cabinet is now only nine short of its maximum strength.

The BJP has given its Maharashtra MPs two cabinet berths and two junior positions, including one of independent charge. The BJP is the largest party (of the NDA members) from the state with 9 MPs, while the Shinde Sena emerged victorious in 6 constituencies.

Support not critical

The Ajit Pawar-led NCP contested four and got just one. Among the three it lost was the high-profile Baramati constituency that is the bastion of party founder Sharad Pawar.

The NDA coalition edged past the 272-seat majority mark in the Lok Sabha after votes were counted last week. The BJP itself got only 240 seats, but 53 from its NDA allies put it over the line.

Of those 53 seats, Chandrababu Naidu's TDP and Nitish Kumar's JDU contributed 28. The Shinde Sena and Ajit Pawar's NCP combined have only seven MPs in the Lok Sabha, so their withdrawal from the ruling alliance may not impact the Modi 3.0 government significantly.

Not surprised: Sule

On the other hand, NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) MP Supriya Sule on Monday said she was not surprised that the Ajit Pawar-led NCP did not get a berth in the Modi 3.0 Cabinet.

Speaking to reporters in Pune on the 25th foundation day of the NCP, founded by her father Sharad Pawar, Sule said, “During the UPA regime, the NCP worked as an ally in the Manmohan Singh government. Manmohanji showed trust and love towards Pawar saheb, and he got two and a half cabinet berths although the party had only eight or nine MPs at the time.” The Congress did not think about numbers and respected the party as its ally, she said.

“In the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government also, everyone treated each other with respect. We did not stick to any formula. Our relationship was based on mutual respect and merit,” Sule said.

The MP said she was not surprised that the NCP did not get a cabinet berth. “I have observed from close quarters how they (BJP) treated their allies in the last 10 years,” she said.

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