Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is set to expand his nine-member ministry on Friday. Ten legislators from the BJP and the Sena each will be inducted. The Sena has been assured of five Cabinet posts and seven ministers of state. Sena leaders Subhash Desai, who lost to a BJP candidate in the Goregaon seat; Diwakar Raote; Ramdas Kadam; Eknath Shinde; Rainvdra Waikar; Vijay Auti; Dada Bhuse; and Sanjay Rathod are expected to join.
With the Sena set to join the government, the coming winter session of the legislature is going to be without the leader of opposition.
Shinde was named the opposition leader after the government had won the trust vote.
The Sena had demanded a deputy chief minister’s post and the home portfolio. This was not acceptable to the BJP. Sena insiders said chief Uddhav Thackeray was worried the party may split if it had failed to join the government. According to them, a large number of legislators did not want to sit in the opposition for five more years. New legislators were pressing for a reunion.
Addressing a press conference, Fadnavis, accompanied by Sena leaders, said both parties had decided to come together to respect the mandate, which favoured a non-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government. The NCP had offered to support the BJP-led government in case of a crisis.
Talks were on to induct members of the BJP allies, Rashtriya Samaj Party, Swabimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Republican Party. It was expected to be finalised by Thursday night.
Fadnavis said the alliance would extend to the coming elections to the civic and local bodies. This paves the way to a new poll partnership in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections in 2017. This apart, both the parties will together fight elections to several other municipal corporation and zilla parishads beginning March 2015. A coordination committee will be formed.
The patch-up seems to have been made possible due to the BJP's uneasiness in accepting support from the NCP that has 41 legislators. The NCP had stayed away from the confidence motion, passed through voice vote. More, chief Sharad Pawar's recent statements the BJP should not take the NCP's support for granted had pushed the ruling party to ensure a settlement with the Sena.
Chief Minister Fadnavis took the initiative and convinced the central leadership to take the Sena aboard. After getting a go-ahead, the BJP authorised Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and Maharashtra minister Chandrakant Patil to negotiate with Thackeray.
But it was not smooth even after the green signal from the central leadership. The Sena was insisting on at least five Cabinet ranks and seven junior ministers and to be sworn in at one go. But the BJP was ready to induct only seven. The deliberations continued and it was finally decided that 10 Sena legislators would be inducted on Friday.
The Sena has 63 legislators in the Assembly; the BJP has 121, supported by one member of the Rashtriya Samaj Party. The BJP has also said it has already received support from 18 legislators belonging to smaller parties and some are independents.
Despite the conflict, the Sena did not end its alliance with the BJP at the Centre. Sena's lone minister Anant Geete did not resign. Despite its decision to join the state government, the Sena has stuck to its demand for one more cabinet post and one more of minister of state at the Centre.
The induction of Sena legislators will give the government a clear majority of 184 in the 288-member state Assembly.
Meanwhile, NCP declared that it will now play the role of a ''constructive opposition”.