NCP breakway group gets its way, Cooperatives goes to Dilip Walse Patil,
Geetanjali Minhas | July 14, 2023 | Mumbai
Nearly a fortnight after being sworn in as Maharashtra deputy chief minister, in a major cabinet expansion on Friday, Ajit Pawar was given the coveted finance and planning portfolios, while Dilip Walse Patil was given charge of cooperation.
Earlier in the day, Ajit Pawar held a meeting with additional chief secretary Nitin Kareer and additional chief secretary Omprakash Gupta.
The cabinet now has nine ministers from the BJP, nine from the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and nine from the NCP, apart from the chief minister and two deputy chief ministers. It can have a maximum of 43 members. There are now 29 cabinet ministers in Maharashtra. Uncertainty over further cabinet expansion still continues.
Other portfolio allocations to NCP in the Eknath Shinde- Devendra Fadnavis government include food and civil supplies to Chaggan Bhujbal, agriculture to Dhananjay Munde , woman and child development to Aditi Tatkare, sports to Sanjay Bansode, relief and rehabilitation to Anil Patil, medical education to Hasan Mushrif, and food & drugs administration to Dharmarao Atram.
The allocation of the plum finance portfolio to NCP is a major win for Ajit Pawar, who lobbied for important portfolios for his party men. Ajit Pawar's new office will be on the fifth floor of Mantralaya which will also serve as the office of the deputy chief minister.
It was reported that in case the finance portfolio was denied to NCP, it had mulled pulling out of the government and could have considered giving outside support or even return to MVA.
There was also strong opposition from the Shinde-led Shiv Sena against handing over of the finance department to Ajit Pawar, alleging preferential treatment to NCP MLAs in the MVA regime for fund allocation affecting development of their constituencies.
On Thursday, speaking at the ‘MahaVijay 2024' workshop of party workers organised at Bhiwandi as part of preparations for the next year's Lok Sabha elections, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis had said that BJP has an emotional alliance with the Shiv Sena and a political one with the Nationalist Congress Party.
“Our tie-up with the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde is an emotional alliance. The BJP and Sena have been together for more than 25 years. Our alliance with the Ajit Pawar-led NCP is a political alliance…We may develop an emotional alliance with the NCP as well in the next 10-15 years,” Fadnavis said.
“Some people accused the BJP of being instrumental in breaking up the Shiv Sena and NCP, but it was the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena that backstabbed the BJP in 2019. We will welcome whoever wants to join the party, but there is no room for Congress-like thinking. Those who believe in appeasement will not be acceptable. AIMIM or Muslim League will have no place in the NDA,” Fadnavis said.
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