Amid demands from RPI(A) chief Ramdas Athawale for ministerial post in the Maharashtra dispensation, the Shiv Sena today said it had offered its Cabinet berth at the Centre to the Dalit leader but he did not respond to it.
Athawale, a Rajya Sabha member, has been asking the Devendra Fadnavis-led government for a ministerial berth in the state Cabinet since the BJP formed the government.
"Our party was ready to give up our portfolio at the Centre and present it to Ramdas Athawale. I feel that he should definitely get a ministerial berth at the Centre," Sena leader and Maharashtra Environment minister Ramdas Kadam told reporters here.
"Uddhavji himself had given his offer to Athawale at Matoshree as he felt that he deserved it. But there was no clear response then," he said.
Senior Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete is the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister at the Centre.
In a terse response to Kadam's comments, Athawale said that he would not do "just anything" to get a ministerial berth and that he values his partners more than anything else.
Athawale had, in the run up to the Lok Sabha election, sewed up an alliance with the BJP and other smaller parties, while the Sena had contested alone.
"I do not do just anything to get a ministerial berth at the Centre. For me, my associates are more important.
"If (late BJP stalwart) Gopinath Munde would have been alive, he would have firmly stood behind me today. Even though the Election Commission has deregistered my party, nobody can take away the immense popularity that we enjoy among people," the RPI(A) leader said.
The Maharashtra Election Commission (SEC) had last week deregistered 16 state-level political parties in Maharashtra, including the Ramdas Athawale-led RPI faction, for alleged failure to submit income tax returns and audited accounts between 2005 and 2014.
Despite sending reminders to them and extending the deadline on request of some of the political parties, these 16 parties allegedly failed to submit any documents, leading to their deregistration, the SEC had said in its statement.