Claim staked, but tug-of-war still on | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Claim staked, but tug-of-war still on

mumbai Updated: Nov 07, 2009 00:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Congress-Nationalist Congress Party

Expect a few surprises as the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ministry takes oath on Saturday.

On Friday, the top brass of both parties busied themselves with the precarious balancing act of finalising the list of ministers and their portfolios.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan fended off queries on whether first-time MLA Rajendra Shekhawat, son of President Pratibha Patil, would find a place in his team.

In the NCP, the frontrunners for the Home Department were RR Patil, who had to resign as deputy chief minister after the 26/11 attacks, current Home Minister Jayant Patil and party chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit, who is also interested in the Energy Department.

Finance Minister Dilip Walse-Patil is likely to retain his portfolio. If Ajit opts for energy, Sunil Tatkare is likely to get the Water Resources Department.

In the Congress, Chavan is likely to retain Urban Development. Though Narayan Rane was lobbying hard for the Revenue Department, Chavan wants it for former chief minister Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar or Patangrao Kadam.

The prominent ministries that will stay with the Congress are urban development, revenue, housing, cooperation, public health, transport, environment, industries, school education, social justice and agriculture.

The NCP has home, finance, public works, water resources (irrigation), rural development, energy, excise and food and drugs administration.

There was unhappiness in both camps over the formula.

Congressmen were unhappy at key departments, like rural development and tribal development, going to the NCP. NCP activists were unhappy over the Congress’ insistence on keeping 23 of the 43 ministries.

A party leader said it was agreed that 40 ministers would take oath and the dispute over three berths would be resolved later. However, Chavan went ahead and declared in Delhi that the party would have 23 ministries. Later, the NCP forced him to backtrack.

The number of Congress ministers is not decided and will be finalised on Saturday,” Chavan said at Raj Bhavan after staking claim to form the government.

Meanwhile, NCP sources said the party will not surrender the Assembly speaker’s post to the Congress. Madhukar Pichad was a probable candidate; Walse-Patil was also being considered for the post.