New Delhi, November 10 – Suresh Prabhu, whose induction into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet on Sunday triggered another standoff between the BJP and Shiv Sena, reportedly resigned from Sena and joined the BJP hours before he took his oath at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Prabhu, who was the power minister during former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime, is likely to be made the next Railway Minister, replacing Karnataka strongman Sadananda Gowda, who is expected to be downgraded to a junior ministry.
In a sign of further escalation of tension between the two former allies, Thackeray foced Sena MP Anil Desai, who was supposed to take oath as a Union Minister, to report back to Mumbai just as he landed in New Delhi.
Anil Desai was expected to be sworn in as a Minister of State, an offer that was not acceptable to Thackeray, who wanted a Cabinet berth for his party in the Sunday reshuffle. But the BJP chose to give that Cabinet post to Suresh Prabhu.
There are speculations that Thackeray will pull his party out of the NDA government at the Centre and even play an opposition in Maharashtra. Sources said Anant Geete, the only Sena minister in the Union Cabinet, is likely to resign shortly.
Thackeray has convened a meeting of his senior leaders in Mumbai on Sunday evening. The Shiv Sena has not yet decided on joining the BJP government in Maharashtra. The BJP is the largest party in the Assembly, but falls short of 22 seats for a simple majority. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is expected to face a trust vote in the Assembly on Wednesday.
Calling the BJP “arrogant”, Sena spokesperson Anandrao Adsul told Headlines Today, “Day by day, they have been saying they will settle the issue after 12th (of November when the trust vote will be held in Maharashtra Assembly). If they want to ignore us, we will not accept it.”