After being denied the revenue department, Narayan Rane put on a brave front on Friday. “I’m here to serve the people. I’m happy with whatever I have got,” said Rane. But, according to sources, behind the scenes, Rane protested against the party decision.
“He tried his level best to retain the revenue department that he has held in the past year,” said a Congress leader, who is in the know of the matter.
Rane was equally upset to have got the industry portfolio when he was inducted in the Ashok Chavan cabinet in 2009. Patangrao Kadam was already given revenue and later Ashok Chavan did not allot it to Rane when the minister made a comeback, two months after his rebellion against the party leadership.
“This is the exemplary punishment that Prithviraj Chavan has been talking about before the cabinet expansion. He denied Rane the portfolio of his choice as the minister’s name has cropped up in several court cases,” added the leader. Also, Rane's ambition to become the chief minister has come in the way of him holding an important position in the cabinet. “Now, Chavan wants Balasaheb Thorat to handle revenue as Thorat is easy to control. It doesn’t bother Prithviraj much even if Thorat is Vilasrao Deshmukh’s supporter,” said the Congress leader.
Another leader, who fell out of favour was Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil. Prithviraj has decided to himself oversee the transport, and law and judiciary departments. Transport department is currently embroiled in a corruption controversy, with the Anti-Corruption Bureau conducting raids at transport offices across the state to expose a huge professional tax scam. When the raids happened, Vikhe-Patil, the then transport minister, was busy lobbying for the CM’s post. Also, during Vikhe-Patil’s stint, the law and judiciary department earned a bad name for itself because several of its decisions were challenged successfully in the high court.
Equally aware of controversies that the urban development department is associated with, Prithviraj has decided the keep the lucrative department under his control. In doing so, the CM will be able keep to keep a check on the influential builders’ lobby that enjoys a nexus with politicians and bureaucrats. The nexus has landed successive governments in trouble.
Having taken care of ‘troublesome’ colleagues, Prithviraj will have time to keep vigilance on other ministers. “The CM has resolved to intervene before any decision boomerangs,” said a senior bureaucrat, who knows Prithviraj for a long time. “Putting in longer hours to cross-check every other file has been the new CM’s forte. So, I expect ministers to be on their toes.”