Maharashtra cabinet expansion ‘stuck on portfolio allocation’, Ajit wants to ‘key home, finance’ ministries

Mumbai: Nine days after Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar and a section of party legislators joined the Eknath Shinde-led government in Maharashtra, the much-awaited state cabinet expansion is yet to take place.

Sources in the state’s ruling Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told ThePrint that the move is stuck over portfolio allocation as there are more ministerial aspirants than available positions. Sources said the exercise is expected to take place before July 17, when the monsoon session of the state assembly begins.

Sena leader and Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis have reportedly held several meetings separately with their party MLAs and among themselves on who could be included in the cabinet.

“The cabinet expansion will happen soon,” Shinde told reporters in Mumbai on Monday.

Pawar was sworn in as deputy CM in the Shinde government, a post he will share with Fadnavis, on July 2. Eight other NCP MLAs also rebelled against the Sharad Pawar-led NCP to join the Shinde government. However, portfolios have not been allotted to them so far.

Sources in both the parties told ThePrint that the entry of NCP leaders into the government has fueled discontent in the BJP and Sena camps.

Shinde camp is worried because a Cause What the present chief minister and his co-workers had given to dump the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra – a coalition of the NCP, the Congress, the undivided Shiv Sena and smaller parties – was Ajit Pawar and the way He was allegedly allocating funds as finance minister.

Sources said many people in the Shinde camp are pressurizing the CM as he is still waiting for a ministerial berth even after a year of government formation.

Shinde, who had defected from the then CM Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena in June last year, had reportedly assured his camp at the time that he would try to get more cabinet berths from the BJP, the party from which he parted ways. mixed. form the government.

A senior BJP leader told ThePrint that the cabinet expansion in Maharashtra will take place in two days and the BJP and Shiv Sena will get five cabinet ministerial berths each.

At present, the state cabinet has 29 ministers with a maximum strength of 43. The BJP leader said that after the allocation to BJP and Shiv Sena, four cabinet berths would be left.

“Whoever is inducted now will be taken as a cabinet minister and not a minister of state,” a BJP leader told ThePrint.

ThePrint has learned that the impasse over allocation of cabinet portfolios is largely a result of distribution of posts to rebel NCP leaders. Sources told ThePrint that Ajit Pawar has asked for key ministries such as home, finance, tourism, excise, social justice and rural development.

Speaking to ThePrint about speculation in the Sena and BJP circles about the possibility of several candidates missing out on cabinet berths, senior minister and BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said: “We held meetings with our MLAs. No one is upset. We have explained the situation to them. As far as Shiv Sena is concerned, one or two dissident MLAs do not represent the voice of all MLAs. I am sure CM Shinde will talk to him and make him understand.

Read also: ‘I want to lead…’ – Ajit Pawar reveals his chief ministerial ambitions, days after becoming deputy chief minister

high hopes, low seats

At the time of leaving the MVA and the Thackeray-led Sena, some MLAs from the Shinde camp cited the inadequate allocation of funds to their constituencies by Ajit Pawar, the then finance minister in the MVA government, as one of the reasons for the rebellion. ,

Party sources told ThePrint that Ajit’s induction into the Shinde government has made them uneasy.

“We told people [of Maharashtra] Ajit Pawar was the main reason for our ouster from MVA. How will we face the people of Maharashtra now?” A Shiv Sena leader told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.

The BJP has taken note of the apprehensions of the Shinde camp.

“We are of the opinion that the Ajit Pawar faction can get anything except finance, home, urban development and irrigation. But ultimately the decision has to be taken by the high command,” the BJP leader had earlier told ThePrint.

Many MLAs from both the parties are also upset as they fear that they will not get a place in the cabinet as the number of portfolios to be allocated has come down. The list of expectations is long.

MLAs Sanjay Shirsat, Bharat Gogavale and Prakash Surve are among the hopefuls waiting to get ministries from the Shiv Sena quota. Independents like Bachchu Kadu are also expected to be included in the cabinet.

“I believe the cabinet expansion will happen within a day or two, but if you want to know the real answer, ask the CM,” Shirsat told the media on Monday.

On the BJP front, the challenge is bigger as the party has the largest number of MLAs within the government – more than the Sena and the NCP put together.

According to media reports, Fadnavis held a meeting on Thursday to pacify the restless MLAs.

BJP MLAs like Ashish Shelar, Sanjay Kute and Madhuri Misal are also expected to join the cabinet.

Meanwhile, the state opposition has started targeting the government over the cabinet deadlock.

Uddhav’s son Aditya Thackeray tweeted on Monday, “9 new ministers took oath 8 days ago. No portfolio has been announced yet. They have rights but no responsibility, they have facilities but no work. meanwhile original gaddars [disloyal people] Waiting for cabinet expansion for more than a year, now see their real ‘worth’ [worth] for mindhe-BJP’s khoke sarkar [taunt against Shinde camp],

(Editing by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Read also: ‘Triple engine government’ in Maharashtra. How Ajit Pawar’s rebellion spells trouble for Shinde, MVA?