The new council of ministers in Maharashtra that took oath on Saturday did not spring too many surprises, as the influential Marathas continued to dominate the scene.
Both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party tried their best to strike regional and social balance and gave cabinet berths to very few relations of influential leaders.
Eighteen Congress legislators (12 cabinet and six ministers of state) and 20 Nationalist Congress Party men (15 cabinet and five ministers of state) were sworn in after Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and his deputy Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP.
Of the 27 senior ministers, 21 are from the previous team and are mostly Marathas. They are expected to get important departments. Chavan, who was elected CM for the second term, is a Maratha, while his deputy Bhujbal is from the other backward communities.
Five vacancies will be filled after the allies finally decide on the division of berths.
Former home minister and deputy CM R.R. Patil, who had to quit after the 26/11 terror attacks last year, has been recalled.
The NCP inducted member of legislative council Fouzia Khan as the state’s first-ever Muslim woman in the ministry. The second woman minister Varsha Gaikwad – Dharavi’s Dalit MLA – came from the Congress quota.
The Congress, which dropped Mumbai’s Chandrakant Handore, brought back former minister Shivajirao Moghe, who had lost in 2004, and media magnate and former MoS Rajendra Darda with a cabinet rank.
The party also inducted former minister of state Subhash Jhanak, a close confidant of Chavan as a cabinet minister and picked another former MoS Ranjit Kamble, whom Chavan did not include in his last term.
The NCP repeated Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Ganesh Naik, Manohar Naik, Vijay Gavit, Sunil Tatkare, Babanrao Pachpute, Rajesh Tope and promoted Hassan Mushrif as a senior minister.
The party dropped senior ministers Dilip Walse-Patil, Nabab Malik, Rajendra Shingane and Vimal Mundada.
The NCP, however, retained Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar as a cabinet minister.
Nimbalkar didn’t contest the elections because his segment has been reserved for SC after delimitation. He will be elected to the Upper House in six months.