The city may bask in the glory of having got four ministers in the Prithviraj Chavan Cabinet, but the departments that the legislators have been allotted are disappointing.
From Congress, Naseem Khan, Suresh Shetty and Varsha Gaikwad have been made Cabinet ministers. Nationalist Congress Party’s Sachin Ahir has been retained as a minister of state.
The ministers did not speak on their allocation because they are not authorised to speak to media on this issue.
Khan will head the textile sector that has lost its sheen in the city. Barring a few towns, such as Bhiwandi and Ichalkaranji, the department has very little to do. Once a sector that offered employment to lakhs of people, the city’s textile mills — whatever are left — are struggling to survive.
Khan also got the minority welfare department only because he’s a Muslim. With a meager budget, Khan will not be able to bring about the welfare of his brethren in his Chandivli segment. But using his position, he may continue to save the Waqf land that has been encroached upon by government offices and the public.
Shetty, who retained his public health minister’s job on sheer merit, virtually has no control over the city’s health care.
While the municipal corporation controls major hospitals, the medical education department runs other big facilities.
Earlier, Shetty led the environment department that largely influenced the city’s planned development and pollution control. His work in preventing procurement of spurious medicine for government hospitals has brought him laurels from his admirers and brickbats from detractors. Last month, Shetty had told the Hindustan Times that he would continue to weed out corruption.
Gaikwad will, however, have some scope to work for women and child welfare.
“She will have to be a bit innovative and reach out to the chief minister with her plans for the city,” said a Congress minister requesting anonymity.
Being a minister of state, Ahir will not be able to take policy decisions, but he may contribute significantly because he will be directly assisting the chief minister in housing/house repairing and redevelopment departments. “But then senior ministers don’t like their juniors to advise,” said a bureaucrat, who did not want to be named.