The elevation of Rane, 69, who started his political career as a Shiv Sainik to become a Bal Thackeray-picked “doer” Shiv Sena chief minister of Maharashtra for less than a year — before he travelled to the Congress and then to BJP, after briefly launching and running his own Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha — spells the BJP central leadership and the Centre’s declaration of escalation of war against the Shiv Sena and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra.
Backing up Rane in the Maratha turf war would be new ministers of state from the BJP (Kapil Patil, a former NCP leader) and Bhagwat Karad, who belongs to the other backward classes and would also be checking the attempted rebellion by Pankaja Munde on their joint turf.
The non-inclusion of Devendra Fadnavis in the Union cabinet has become a talking point given his not-so-discreet expressions of interest for a Delhi perch. This means the former CM has been left out to continue to prophesise the “imminent collapse” of the MVA regime.
The trio can be expected to try and combat the Shiv Sena in latter’s Konkan-Mumbai-Thane stronghold, more in the run-up to the elections to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Known for his aggressive, street-smart politics, Rane still carries a fire in his belly and wears his grouse and antipathy for the Sena leadership on his sleeves and often takes on the Uddhav Thackeray family. His two politician sons, Nilesh and Nitish, too practise their father’s brand of politics. The Union ministership would add fuel to his fire to mobilise a larger fight against the Sena.
Rane Senior had an interesting stint in the Congress, as he became industry and revenue minister in the Maharashtra regime, internally staked claim for the CM’s post. turned belligerent thereafter, once got suspended from the party and later returned after meeting Sonia Gandhi, before taking off to the BJP.
For Scindia, 50, the Union Cabinet berth comes as the BJP’s thanksgiving one year and four months after the one-time Rahul Gandhi pal delivered Madhya Pradesh to the saffron party by toppling the Congress regime by taking away more than 20 MLAs to the BJP. But before this, he got most of those MLAs re-elected on BJP ticket and ensured ministerial berths for some, thus displaying his hold on the Gwalior belt. His Cabinet berth means a big promotion given he was grudging the minister of state slot in the Manmohan Singh regime and truncated AICC general secretary slot in UP. His supporters had long complained that the Gandhis would never promote youngsters with a “potential to outshine” Rahul Gandhi.
The ‘Maharaja’s elevation by Modi, his younger age, political clout and glamour and the Scindia aura also means “Mama ji” Shivraj Singh Chouhan would be all the more edgy.