Four days after the Congress revoked his suspension, Narayan Rane made it to the state Cabinet earlier than expected. On Friday evening, the ex-Shiv Sainik was sworn in as Cabinet minister at the Raj Bhavan.
Rane's swearing-in also paved way for other two Congress legislators -Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Shirdi) and Mohammed Arif alias Naseem Khan (Kurla) - who took oath of office. However, the fourth berth of the Congress quota could not be filled due to infighting in the party
Sources said Rane wanted the berth for his supporter Kalidas Kolamkar, while ex-CM Vilasrao Deshmukh wanted it for his younger brother Dilip Deshmukh.
Rane, revenue minister in the erstwhile Vilasrao Deshmukh cabinet, had rebelled against the party in December when Ashok Chavan replaced Deshmukh as chief minister. He was suspended immediately but the party forgave him after he tendered unconditional apology to the high command.
"There is no misunderstanding between us. We will work together," said Chavan, adding portfolios would be allocated to the new ministers in due course.
"I am thankful to the Congress leadership for making me minister once again," Rane told the media after the swearing-in ceremony. "I will work hard to help Congress win the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra,"
Sources said Rane was pitching for an important portfolio. He is unlikely to get the Revenue department he held earlier as it has already been allotted to another senior minister. He may get Housing or Industry department. "I expect the chief minister to give me an important charge," he said.
Vikhe-Patil may get School Education. Khan will assist a couple of senior ministers.