Confident that it will emerge as the single largest party in Maharashtra, the Congress is already eyeing a greater stake in the state’s new power structure.
“Most of the important ministries in this government lie with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP),” Congress spokesperson Hussain Dalwai said. “If our coalition comes to power, we will definitely stake a claim to ministries like home and finance which are important for effective governance.”
Exit polls have predicted that the Congress is likely to bag 75 to 89 seats in the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly.
The Congress-NCP coalition first came to power in 1999. Apart from the chief minister’s post, the Congress held portfolios like revenue, industries and urban development. The NCP has been controlling important departments like home, finance, public works, water resources (irrigation) and power.
The Congress has been asking for a review of the power equation with the NCP. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had publicly stated that the home ministry should be under his control.
Dalwai said, “The home ministry has not been handled properly. It was one of the reasons why minorities turned against us. We will need to review all these issues once we come to power.”
The NCP, however, is adamant on retaining its hold over the ministries it controls. “When Vasantdada Naik was the chief minister, Sharad Pawar held the home ministry effectively,” NCP spokesperson Madan Bafna said. “The whole argument that the home ministry should be with the chief minister does not stand much ground.”