In a searing attack on the Eknath Shinde-led government in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on Wednesday said everyone knows who is the "real Chief Minister", seemingly alluding to the clout of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP in the new dispensation.
Taking a dig at the cabinet expansion, Aaditya Thackeray said the ministerial team has neither heard Mumbai's voice nor the voice of women or Independent MLAs.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde last week expanded his Cabinet, inducting nine MLAs each of the rebel Shiv Sena camp and the BJP, which is supporting his government. No woman legislator or Independent was inducted in the cabinet whose strength is now 20.
The first 14 to 15 MLAs who aligned with Shinde when he revolted against the Shiv Sena leadership in June have not found a place in the cabinet.
“So there is no place for loyalty,” Aaditya Thackeray, a former minister, mocked while talking to reporters outside the state legislature.
“Everyone now knows who the real chief minister is,” he said in an apparent reference to Mr Fadnavis, who holds home, finance and a host of other key portfolios.
Post the expansion, the Shiv Sena faction led by party president Uddhav Thackeray had criticised the Shinde government, saying crucial portfolios have been allocated to the BJP.
“Independents have not got any place. Women have not got any place in the cabinet nor has Mumbai,” said the junior Thackeray.
The lone cabinet minister from the metropolis is Mangal Prabhat Lodha, the BJP MLA from Malabar Hill in south Mumbai.
Nearly 10 independent MLAs had backed Shinde after he rebelled against the party.
Aaditya Thackeray said those who have got a place in the Cabinet have been "downgraded", a reference to rebel Sena MLAs who have got portfolios considered lightweight.
Attacking the 40 rebel Sena MLAs, he said, “They stabbed a kind person (Uddhav Thackeray) in the back. Doors are open for those who want to come back, but those who want to stay there must quit as MLA.” The junior Thackeray has been consistently assailing the rebels since the June revolt, branding them as 'gaddars' (traitors).
The rebellion in the Shiv Sena had led to the collapse of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June-end.