With Devendra Fadnavis sure to lead next government, lobbying begins in BJP for plum portfolios
With the BJP almost sure to lead the next government in the state, party leaders were on Friday lobbying for important portfolios and trying to build bridges anew with Shiv Sena whose support would be essential going by exit poll results.
The most important development was Sena climbing down from its high horse and offering support to a BJP government as it does not want to remain out of power again after 15 years in the opposition, a senior partly leader told dna.
Sena's official stand was stated by Saamna which said in its editorial: "Now there must be no arguments and bitterness. Minds have been broken. Though it's difficult to mend these, Maharashtra needs stability and peace and for that let's await the day when the results will be out."
BJP, knowing well which way the wind is blowing, was busy lining up ministerial candidates. None in the BJP had doubts on Friday about 44-year-old state party president Devendra Fadnavis becoming the chief minister. The other aspirants for the top post are now trying to pitch in their claim for the big portfolios.
Vinod Tawde, leader of opposition in the legislative council, is unlikely to get home portfolio though he had jumped the gun during the campaign saying he would arrest Ajit Pawar on corruption charges. It's quite likely that he will get a high-profile ministry like finance.
Eknath Khadse, the senior most BJP leader, is likely to get home, one reason being that he led the charge in the assembly against corruption by Cong-NCP govt, including the Adarsh scam.
Senior MLAs Sudhir Mungantiwar and Girish Bapat, who will be MLAs for the fifth time, are likely to get either education or transport.
Pankaja Munde, who showed she is not short of ambition by staking claim to CM's post, may have to settle for rural development. Her father, the late Gopinath Munde, was Union minister for rural development when he died in a car accident and it's felt the daughter should be given the chance to fulfil some of her father's plans.
Other than Tawde, Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Prakash Mehta from Mumbai will also get cabinet berths. Minority community MLA Pasha Patel may be considered for the agriculture portfolio as he had prepared a background paper on agriculture for the party prior to the general elections.
"We hope to form a government independently. However, if we fall short, we have no option but to join hands with Sena," a senior BJP leader told dna, adding that it made little sense to tie-up with NCP. A section in BJP would oppose any truck with NCP, he added, admitting that though there was intense acrimony between Sena and BJP cadre, that could be papered over by the desire for power.
The BJP leader also said that if they fell short of just a couple of MLAs, the party could make overtures to MNS. The other option was to lure Congress legislators into switching over to BJP and asking them to seek re-election as BJP candidates.