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Shiv Sena recalls its nominee from cabinet expansion
Sunday November 9, 2014 3:59 PM, IANS

In a dramatic turnaround, the Shiv Sena Sunday abstained from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet expansion, asking its nominee Anil Y. Desai to return to Mumbai.

Desai's name was mooted for a berth in the union ministry and he rushed to New Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony scheduled for 1.30 p.m.

But barely minutes before the ceremony was slated to start at Rashtrapati Bhavan, senior Sena MP Anandrao Adsul said in Mumbai that the party has decided against proceeding with Desai's inclusion in Modi's cabinet.

The Sena's prime grouse stems from BJP's decision to induct former minister Suresh Prabhu as a cabinet minister and relegate Desai, the party's official nominee, to the minister of state rank.

Peeved by what party officials alleged "complete non-cooperation" by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bigwigs in addressing its concerns, Desai returned to Mumbai from the New Delhi airport itself.

With the Sena's rejection of a central berth, speculation is rife whether the party will remain in the central government. Union Minister Anant Geete, its lone representative, was summoned to Mumbai late Saturday after he failed to get an appointment to meet Modi.

The latest developments have raised questions about the fate of the fledgling Devendra Fadnavis ministry which will seek a vote of confidence here Wednesday.

Chief Minister Fadnavis was sworn-in Oct 31 as the head of a minority government and directed by Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao to pass a floor test within two weeks.

The BJP has an effective strength of 121 legislators, plus one member from pre-poll ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and the support of a few independents and smaller parties in the 288-seat state legislature.

The Nationalist Congress Party, with 41 MLAs, has decided to abstain from the house during the trust vote.

In case the Sena, with 63 legislators, decides to sit in the opposition and vote against the government, it could be a close call for the BJP as the Congress has 42 MLAs and some independents and smaller parties could also follow suit.

In fact, Sena leaders have been demanding that the BJP clarify its stand vis-a-vis the NCP and also the Sena's status if it joined the government.

On its part, the BJP has made it abundantly clear that it would not tolerate the Sena tantrums since it does not require the party's support either in the state or at the Centre.

The Sena's top leadership is expected to meet in Mumbai later Sunday evening where party chief Uddhav Thackeray is expected to take a final decision in these matters.

The BJP snapped its 25-year-old ties with the Sena Sep 25, just three weeks before the Oct 15 elections which threw up a sharply fractured verdict.

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