It is a problem of plenty for alliance partners, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), because they have several ministerial aspirants among the 144 legislators but only 41 cabinet berths available.
The allies are expected to form the new government on Friday and aspirants lobbied hard for ministerial berths with their respective high commands.
The Congressmen explored their chances in New Delhi while NCP leaders pinned their hopes on party chief Sharad Pawar, who was in Mumbai on Thursday and who will take the final call on who gets a berth.
Though distribution of berths between the allies was not known until Thursday night, it is certain that both allies will have more than 20 ministers each and 80 per cent of them would be from the old, influential lot.
“It’s a real test for hopefuls because the vacancies available are too few,” said a senior Congress leader requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak on the subject.
The legal restriction on the size of the council of ministers has compounded the problem.
There have been jumbo-size cabinets in the past — Sushilkumar Shinde had 69 ministers in his cabinet six years ago — but the size was subsequently fixed at 15 per cent of the total number of legislators. The rule is applicable across the country.
The Congress aspirants are using all tricks to woo the party leadership. Politician fathers like former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde, Member of Parliament (MP) Eknath Gaikwad and former MP Radhakrishna Patil are pitching for their wards. President Pratibha Patil’s son, Rajendra Shekhawat, is also trying hard for a place in the cabinet.
The members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), who are in their third term or were defeated the last time after but won these elections, are trying to make their way in through their political masters in New Delhi.
The Congress has 82 MLAs while the NCP has 62.