The 40-day time it took for Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Minister Devendra Fadnavis to hand over the cabinet expansion to Maharashtra shows how difficult their balancing act has been. The fact that the 18 ministers were sworn in today consisting of nine each from two factions, even though Shiv Sena’s Shinde faction had only 50 members compared to the BJP’s 106, was seen as a victory for him.
Many were surprised that he was appointed prime minister in the first place, instead of Fadnavis. And now here’s another show of strength. It is true that he has a more difficult task in keeping his herd in line than the BJP, where party discipline prevails. Nearly all 50 legislators from his camp had to squeeze to be inducted into the cabinet.
Just like the contest with Uddhav Thackeray for the rank and profile of Shiv Sena and shakhas, Shinde now has more muscle. It remains to be seen whether his camp will win some of the heavier portfolios. From the point of view of the admiring Maharashtrian aam and aurat, what is more important is whether the two factions can run the government in parallel – or go the way of Bihar, where the leaders of the BJP and JD (U) seem to spend more time cutting each other with the opposition.