Maharashtra cabinet expanded, portfolio allocation likely today
Geetanjali Minhas | December 31, 2019
Thirty-two days after taking oath as chief minister, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has expanded his council of ministers by inducting 26 cabinet ministers and 10 ministers of state (MoS). The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as the deputy chief minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) cabinet.
Monday’s cabinet expansion also includes Aaditya Thackerey who is the first member of Thackeray family to contest elections. The young Shiv Sena leader won the assembly polls from Worli constituency and is said to be playing active role in both the government and the party.
The 36-minister cabinet has 14 MLAs from the NCP, 12 from the Shiv Sena and 10 belong to the Congress. Two members from each of the MVA alliance partners had taken oath on November 28, alongside Uddhav Thackeray. The CM said the portfolio allocation would be done by Tuesday or Wednesday. Including the chief minister, the cabinet now has a full strength of 43 ministers in the 288-member assembly.
Ajit Pawar, a seven-term MLA, is deputy CM for the fourth time. He is the nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. On Monday he took oath for the second time in less than 40 days, after November 23, when in the early hours he had taken oath along with Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP but quit hours before a supreme court-ordered floor test took place. The BJP, though the single largest party with 105 seats, could not prove majority because of differences with its former ally, Shiv Sena, over rotational sharing of the chief minister’s post. Pawar had earlier been inducted as deputy CM in November 2010, October 2012 and November 2019.
The leaders who took oath on Monday include former chief minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan, Amit Deshmukh, Varsha Gaikwad, NCP leader and former assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil, former leader of opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde, and former leader of opposition in the assembly Vijay Wadettiwar. The NCP’s Nawab Malik, Anil Deshmukh. Jitendra Awhad, Hasan Mushreef and Rajesh Tope were also sworn in.
Shankarrao Gadakh of the Krantikari Shetkari Paksha was also inducted as a cabinet minister. Rajendra Patil Yedravkar, an independent, and Bachhu Kadu of the Prahar Janshakti Party were given the MoS rank.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan, the key architect of MVA, opted out of the race in favour of younger candidates from the party as he was not inclined to work in junior position. Speaking to Governance Now, Chavan, who is also a former union cabinet minister and has vast political and administrative experience, said he was not inclined to work in a junior position. “With Bala Saheb Thorat leading our group, I am happy and it is not fair to deny chance to young people. I am always there to protect the interest of the Congress in the government,” he said. Asked to comment on reports suggesting he could be given the charge as state Congress president, Chavan said there had been no discussion on this and if asked, he will think about it.
Senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut was not present at the swearing-in ceremony which took place at the Vidhan Bhavan in south Mumbai. Many Sena allies too were absent after the party allotted berths to three independents.
Minutes after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test on Wednesday night, Uddhav Thackeray in a televised address resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra and also as a member of legislative council (MLC). He later drove down to Raj Bhavan and tendered his resignation to the governor Bhagat Singh Koshi
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