MUMBAI: Heavy representation for Maharashtra in Wednesday’s Cabinet reshuffle and the induction of Narayan Rane in particular indicated that BJP might be preparing to go it alone in Mumbai and Maharashtra in 2024 without seeking an early rapprochement with Shiv Sena though speculation about a patch-up has been rife of late.
Importantly, former CM Devendra Fadnavis, who has been a thorn in the side of the MVA government as leader of opposition, has emerged more powerful as all the newly-inducted Cabinet members from the state are seen as his trusted aides.
Ever since talk of a Cabinet reshuffle began a month ago, there was speculation that Fadnavis may be inducted into the Union Cabinet in order to pacify his arch rival, CM Uddhav Thackeray, with whom BJP was believed to be getting closer. In the corridors of power, there were rumours that if Fadnavis was shifted to New Delhi, Thackeray would continue as CM with two deputy CMs from BJP after dumping Congress and NCP, but it has not happened.
While two ministers from Maharashtra, Prakash Javadekar and Sanjay Dhotre, have been dropped, Rane, Kapil Patil, Bhagwat Karad and Bharati Pawar have been brought in. Rane importantly belongs to the Maratha community. Currently, the issues of reservation for Marathas and OBCs and injustice against tribals are dominant in Maharashtra’s politics.
BJP expects that with the induction of Rane, who had aggressively taken up the cause of Maratha reservation, the party’s image will be improved in the community. During Fadnavis’ tenure as CM, the state government had passed a legislation for providing reservation to Marathas, but it did not stand the scrutiny of the courts.