Mumbai: After intense bargaining, the Shiv Sena has succeeded in wangling the highly sensitive and politically crucial home department from its Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partner, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). This portfolio will be held by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
In exchange, the NCP has wrested the equally important urban development portfolio from the Sena. This was the outcome of the meeting between CM Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday evening.
The NCP was reluctant to let go of the home department but CM Thackeray reportedly took an adamant stand. Only when he agreed to cede his party's claim on the urban development department did the NCP relent. Leaders from the Sena and the NCP confirmed the development but said, in a day or two, an announcement would be on the allocation of portfolios among three main constituents of the MVA – the Sena, NCP and Congress.
The Sena and the NCP plan to exploit to the fullest the potential of the respective ministries in their quota, so as to consolidate their strength, given that the elections to 10 municipal corporations and 27 zilla parishads are due in February 2022.
A Sena leader, who is privy to the ongoing power-sharing exercise told The Free Press Journal, “Our party has a presence in urban and semi-urban areas but its presence in rural areas needs to be further consolidated. We hope to spread our wings based on the inputs received from the local intelligence unit.”
As far as the NCP is concerned, the party has revived its hold in rural areas and in districts leading in the cooperative movement. However, it has a negligible presence in Mumbai, other cities and towns.
An NCP leader, currently involved in the ongoing talks with the Sena and Congress over portfolio allocation, observed that the party would be able to reach out to the people from urban areas and Tier II and III cities only by taking up a slew of programmes and projects, which could be undertaken by the urban development department. “Our party hopes its tie-up with the Shiv Sena will help increase its strength in urban centres. This is important, considering that nearly 46% of the state’s population lives in urban areas,” he noted.