When he took over as chief minister following 26/11, Ashok Chavan (51) had been considered a lightweight and a stop-gap arrangement.
On Saturday, as the 18-member Congress team was sworn-in, it was clear who was in charge. Half of them were loyal to Chavan and most of the remaining ready to toe his line.
His rival Vilasrao Deshmukh’s brother Dilip or son Amit did not find a place in the cabinet. Only two of Deshmukh’s supporters - Balasaheb Thorat and Harshvardhan Patil - were inducted as ministers.
Another rival, Narayan Rane just managed to get a berth for himself, none for his supporters. But his rival Vijay Wadettiwar is back in the ministry.
“The way the Congress team is formed, it is a clear indication that Chavan has strong control over it,” said political analyst B. Venkatesh Kumar. “Even someone like Rane has been keeping silent.”
The five vacant cabinet berths, of which the Congress is certain to get four, offer Chavan an advantage in his effort to keep the flock together.
As far as the NCP is concerned, its chief Sharad Pawar has shown who is the boss.
He has created three power centres so that no particular leader can disturb the party. Besides his nephew Ajit who handles the party organisation, two others have emerged as power centres - Deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal and R.R. Patil.
Party sources say it was Pawar’s decision to bring Patil back. He had stepped down from deputy chief ministership to save the party from public criticism following 26/11.
“This has something to do with the way Ajit Pawar supporters showed their strength in the party meeting when Bhujbal was elected to lead the party in the government. Now Pawarsaheb has ensured such scenes would not be repeated,” said a key NCP leader. Sources say Pawar wants to hand the home department to Patil.