Arvind Sawant of Shiv Sena will be sworn in as a minister in the new cabinet of Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi, senior party leaders confirmed on Thursday, as the leaders of the BJP met in New Delhi to finalize other members ‘ names.
Prime Minister-elect Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have been in a meeting since morning in the midst of speculation about the likely composition of the new cabinet with its allies in mind, who helped it win a massive mandate in the Lok Sabha election.
Despite winning 18 of Maharashtra’s 23 Lok Sabha seats, the Shiv Sena is expected to receive only one ministerial berth despite seeking at least three.
In the previous government of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Sena also had only one minister in Raigad’s Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises — Anant Geete — who lost the election to Sunil Tatkare of the Nationalist Congress Party.This time, the Sena wants a more public-profile plum portfolio.
“Arvind Sawant was chosen by Uddhav ji. He’s going to take oath today,” said Sena leader and Sanjay Raut, member of Rajya Sabha. Sawant retained his seat by defeating Milind Deora from Congress in the Mumbai South constituency’s recent Lok Sabha election. The 68-year-old won the Mumbai chief of the Congress party with a margin of 1,00,067 votes.
In his early years, Sawant, who is a deputy leader in the hierarchy of the party, joined the Sena. He worked with Mahanagar Telephone Network Ltd (MTNL) as an engineer until 1995.After being nominated to the Maharashtra Legislative Council when the Sena-BJP government came to power in 1995, he took voluntary retirement.
Sawant was selected in the 16th Lok Sabha as the best parliamentarian. The MP also said the last Lok Sabha was attended by 98.5 percent and participated in 287 debates.
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah met three hours ahead of Thursday night’s oath-taking ceremony on Wednesday after four hours of discussions the day before on cabinet positions allocation.
Shah also met Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar, whose 16-seat Janata Dal(United) is the NDA’s third-largest partner. The JD(U) was not part of the previous government, but this cabinet is expected to receive portfolios.
The new council of ministers is expected to retain most veterans, and speculation is also rife that if Modi decides to induce him in the government, Shah may move to North Block.