With seven ministers, Maharashtra is one of the few states that will have considerable representation in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.
Of the seven Congress selections, four hold Cabinet posts, three are ministers of state. The party on Wednesday named Vilasrao Deshmukh, Mukul Wasnik, Prithviraj Chavan, Gurudas Kamat and Pratik Patil as Union ministers, in addition to Murli Deora and Sushilkumar Shinde who are already in the Cabinet.
Analysts say this is an indication that Maharashtra is high on the Congress’ agenda — it’s a state where the party is looking to improve its position, especially since it’s going for Assembly elections in September.
In this Lok Sabha polls, the Congress won 17 seats in the state (it won 13 seats in 2004), which has also helped the party improve its tally nationally.
The move is also aimed at reining in Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party with which it has an uneasy alliance.
In UPA’s previous tenure, the Congress had five ministers from Maharashtra, but two — Shivraj Patil and Manikrao Gavit — were dropped later.