Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday rubbished reports that him skipping the swearing-in ceremony of ministers as part of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's first cabinet expansion is linked to his brother not making the cut. The leader, who played a pivotal role in the formation of the Sena's alliance with ideologically opposite Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, said he and his family are loyal to the Thackerays.
A month after taking over as the state Chief Minister, Mr Thackeray expanded his cabinet for the first time, adding 36 MLAs to the list of ministers. Ten of the 36 MLAs given ministerial berths today belong to the Congress.
Sunil Raut, Mr Raut's brother and Sena MLA, has not been included in the Cabinet.
Asked if he is upset with his brother being ignored, Mr Raut said," It is a government of three parties where able people are in every party. So whatever is given in the quota has to be accepted. I am happy that Uddhav Thackeray is the Chief Minister of the state," he was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
"We have never asked for anything. Instead, we believe in giving to the party. My brother Sunil has never demanded a ministerial berth. Some people are only spreading rumours.
"My family and I are always with the Shiv Sena. We are loyal to the Thackeray family. Our family has contributed to the government formation in the state," he added.
The Shiv Sena had approached Sharad Pawar's NCP and the Congress for government formation after its decades-old alliance with the BJP collapsed in November over the demand of rotational chief ministership.
As the three parties were working out the modalities of the alliance, BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, in a stunning move, had taken oath as the Maharashtra Chief Minister; NCP leader Ajit Pawar had also been sworn in as his deputy. The 80-hour government had collapsed because of lack of support needed to pass a floor test in the state assembly. Mr Pawar, after the failed coup, had returned to the NCP fold.
Ajit Pawar was today sworn in as the state's Deputy Chief Minister. Uddhav Thackeray's son Aaditya also took oath as a minister.
Mr Raut had led the Sena's attack after the BJP leadership had denied making the promise of rotational chief ministership before the Maharashtra election. He had also met NCP chief Sharad Pawar several times before their parties decided to enter into a post-poll partnership.
With inputs from ANI