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Rediff.com  » News » 'The alliance is very strong'

'The alliance is very strong'

By PRASANNA D ZORE
February 17, 2023 09:54 IST
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'The government will last its full term.'

IMAGE: Eknath Shinde with Maharashtra MLAs at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Guwahati in July 2022; Omprakash Kadu is seated seventh from left. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

Omprakash 'Bachchu' Kadu, a former Maharashtra minister and MLA from the Prahar Janshakti Party who has been the most consistent and combative with his demand for ministerial expansion in Maharashtra, tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com that if the expansion doesn't happen in the next one month then it will happen only after the 2024 assembly elections when a new government is formed in the state.

The MLA from Achalpur in Maharashtra's Amravati district has time and again crossed swords with the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government over ministerial expansion ever since he was sidelined in the first expansion which took place on August 9, 2022, when 18 new ministers were inducted -- nine each from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shinde's Balsahebanchi Shiv Sena.

Ask him if he, like many other hopefuls who joined the BJP-BSS bandwagon when the Shinde rebellion took place last June, is despondent that the expansion may not happen at all, he says, "Fact is fact. We have to accept this fact."

Kadu, known for his combative style of politics, was the first MLA to jump the Maha Vikas Aghadi ship in June 2022 when Shinde and 39 other MLAs quit the Shiv Sena and toppled Uddhav Thackeray's two-and-a-half year reign as Maharashtra's chief minister.

He was the minister of state for water resources and education in the MVA government.

IMAGE: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis hold the Tricolour at a Har Ghar Tiranga event in Mumbai, two days after the first ministerial expansion, August 9, 2022. Photograph: PTI Photo

Responding to Devendra Fadnavis's recent revelation that Kadu followed Shinde to Surat and Guwahati at his behest, he admits, "Yes, he (Fadnavis) is right. He did ask me to go to Guwahati and I did go. Now, I will become a minister too at his behest."

Kadu claimed that Fadnavis has assured him of a cabinet berth whenever the Maharashtra ministry is expanded. "He has assured me about it (ministry). He has been telling me so," he adds.

With 288 MLAs who are directly elected to the Maharashtra legislative assembly, a maximum of 43 ministers can be accommodated in the Shinde-Fadnavis government, whose number currently stand at 20, split equally between the BJP and the BSS.

Ever since the first expansion of the ministry took place last August there has been speculation about the impending expansion every two months and Kadu has always been in the forefront of expressing his displeasure about the delay.

In January Kadu had warned the Shinde-Fadnavis government that it may receive a jolt if they kept delaying the long-due expansion when reports of expansion just before or after the Budget session of the Maharashtra assembly. The Budget session begins on February 27 and ends March 25.

'Not expanding the cabinet may damage the government,' Kadu had reportedly warned in January 2023.

In a volte face, Kadu now claims that there is no threat to the state government.

"The government will last its full term," he says.

About reports of his falling out with the government over delay in expansion and him being sidelined in the first round of expansion, he says, "I am not at all upset. From the way I am speaking, do you feel that I am upset?"

"I have got the divyang mantralay (a ministry for the disabled, which the state government has proposed; Kadu is known for his work among the disabled). In fact, I am happier than I was (when I was a minister in the MVA)," he counters the charges of him being upset with Fadnavis.

"The alliance is very strong; the expansion has been delayed due to the Supreme Court case," he says about why the Shinde-Fadnavis government has been postponing the much anticipated expansion of its ministry.

Ask Kadu why he always goes public about his grievance over expansion, he answers: "It has been my habit."

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PRASANNA D ZORE / Rediff.com
 
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