Prithviraj Chavan’s first challenge is to put together a team of Congress ministers.
Chavan, 64, was sworn in as the state’s 16th chief minister on Thursday. With him, NCP’s Ajit Pawar took oath as deputy chief minister and nine other ministers from that party were sworn in as well.
The Congress, however, could not put together its first batch of ministers, thanks to the pressure of various factions within the party. Lobbying was at its peak in Mumbai and Delhi where the mentors put in a word for cabinet berths for their protégés, senior leaders tried to get their sons and daughters in and every other legislator wanted to become minister.
“The lobbying left Chavan with little time, so the party leadership asked him to take oath alone. Other names will be finalised later,” said a key Congress functionary.
Congress heavyweights Narayan Rane, Patangrao Kadam, Balasaheb Thorat, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Harshvardhan Patil and a dozen more hopefuls had been lobbying hard for a ministerial berth. The team is likely to be finalised by Monday or Tuesday.
In contrast, alliance partner NCP managed to douse the fire that began with the election of Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister. Chhagan Bhujbal who lost the post on Wednesday chose not to take any extreme steps, and decided to remain a minister. Others who took oath included R R Patil, Ganesh Naik, Jayant Patil, Sunil Tatkare, Laxman Dhoble, Vijaykumar Gavit, Jaydutt Kshirsagar and Manohar Naik. Pawar said the portfolio allocation could be announced by Sunday.
Chavan and the first batch of ministers were administered oath of office and secrecy by Governor K Sankaranarayanan at Raj Bhavan. Dressed in a black bandhgala, Chavan came with his wife Satvasheela while Pawar came with wife Sunetra. The ceremony was attended by political heavyweights like union ministers Murli Deora, Sushilkumar Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmukh, ex-CM Ashok Chavan and MPs.