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Shinde to expand Maharashtra cabinet on August 9; rebel MLAs may take oath

The much-delayed Maharashtra cabinet expansion is finally scheduled for Tuesday.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said that the name of ministers to be sworn in would be announced on Tuesday. Shinde said that he had called a meeting of his loyalist MLAs to finalise the names.

Since the formation of the new government in Maharashtra, there has been no full-fledged cabinet in the last 40 days in the state. According to sources, the cabinet expansion will be carried out in two phases. In the first phase, eight from BJP will take oath, while seven from Shinde camp will be sworn in as ministers.

“In the second phase, the remaining ministers will be sworn in. In Maharashtra, as per the Assembly strength, maximum 42 members from both BJP and Shinde camp can be sworn in as ministers. The BJP has 105 MLAs, while Shinde has 40. Shinde promised his loyalists to make ministers in the new government. So, it’s a tight rope walk for him,” sources said.

The eight ministers from the Shiv Sena had joined the Shinde camp. All of them are likely to be re-inducted as ministers, except Abdul Sattar, whose name surfaced in the Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) scam on Monday.

The BJP is likely to get crucial home and finance portfolios. Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis is likely to keep the home ministry with him.

“The BJP has decided to name some new faces along with senior leaders. Besides, the BJP has also decided to induct MLAs who helped the party to expand its base against Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray,” said sources.

BJP leader Ashish Shelar is unlikely to be inducted into the cabinet. “Shelar is likely to be given party responsibility as president of Maharashtra BJP unit. Shelar is close to Union minister Amit Shah. The BJP wants to promote the Maratha as its face in Maharashtra ahead of upcoming elections. Shelar has also been given the responsibility of BMC elections,” sources said.

The monsoon session of Maharashtra Assembly is scheduled from August 10-18.

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