The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) decided not to rock the boat ahead of Lok Sabha and assembly polls next year, retaining 14 of its 20 state ministers, including the tainted ones, in the reshuffle announced by party chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday.
Of the six new faces, four are from the youth brigade.
NCP’s state president Madhukar Pichad, Satara legislator Shashikant Shinde and affiliate independent MLA Dilip Sopal were made cabinet ministers, while younger legislators Uday Samant, Sanjay Savkare were inducted as junior ministers.
Gulabrao Deokar who had been chargesheeted in the Jalgaon housing scam was dropped, but others who are facing allegations were retained. Three seniors—Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, Laxman Dhoble and Babanrao Pachpute—and three junior ministers—Deokar, Bhaskar Jadhav and Prakash Solanke—were dropped.
The exercise also showed deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was given weightage, as four of the six new ministers, barring Pawar’s long-time aides Pichad and Sopal, are considered to be close to Ajit. “This indicates they are working closely, since they need each other for electoral success,” said a NCP minister.