MUMBAI: Days after the Election Commission (EC) recognised the Eknath Shinde-led faction as the real ‘Shiv Sena’ and allocated it the ‘bow and arrow’ poll symbol speculation is rife that the Shinde-Fadnavis cabinet may be expanded before the budget session of the state legislature as the Shinde faction is pushing for it. The budget session starts on February 27. A Shinde faction insider said that while a cabinet expansion may help them get more MLAs to switch loyalties and also give a message that CM Shinde is in control of the government, no cabinet expansion will take place unless the BJP comes on board. The BJP, it is learnt, may not be so keen on a cabinet expansion, at least for now.
“The cabinet expansion is due for a long time. There are 40 Shiv Sena MLAs who are with us and 10 independent MLAs who have supported us since July 2022. Only 9 apart from CM Shinde have got a ministerial berth. So, another 32 are waiting and at least 14 of them are claiming a ministerial berth. A discussion will happen between the senior leaders in the state and the BJP top brass in Delhi before any decision is taken,” a Shinde faction leader said.

In major setback for Uddhav Thackeray, EC recognises Eknath Shinde faction as the real Shiv Sena

Another Shinde faction leader said that some of the party MLAs and independents have to be accommodated in the cabinet. “There is a possibility that the Shinde faction MLAs will get inducted in the cabinet. The doors of the cabinet will also have to be opened if more MLAs, especially those who were ministers in the MVA government, want to come over and pledge support to CM Shinde. So, there is a possibility that a cabinet expansion may take place,” said the leader.
However, the Shinde faction leader said that any decision on a cabinet expansion will be taken only after consulting deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and Amit Shah.
“A cabinet expansion is unlikely. But if there is a discussion and a green signal from Delhi it could happen,” a BJP functionary said.

EC recognises Eknath Shinde faction as real Shiv Sena

More than 40 days after he was sworn in as CM, Shinde had on August 9 last year announced the portfolios for his cabinet ministers. The then Governor BS Koshyari had administered the oath of office to 18 MLAs (nine each from the Shinde camp and the BJP) as ministers. All 18 of them were cabinet ministers, and no MoS or junior ministers have been sworn in.
None of the 10 independents and MLAs from smaller parties that have backed the CM Shinde camp was inducted in the cabinet in August.

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