‘Comeback man’ Chhagan Bhujbal will be Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister for the third time. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar took this decision after the party’s newly elected legislators met in Mumbai and authorised Pawar to select their leader.
Sixty-two-year-old Bhujbal was deputy CM and home minister from October 1999 to December 2003 before his name cropped up in the Telgi fake stamp paper scam. He was absolved later.
Bhujbal, who has also served as mayor of Mumbai, returned as deputy CM in December 2008 after incumbent R.R. Patil quit in the wake of the 26/11 terror attacks. But he did not get the prestigious home department and continued to head the public works department.
“I thank my leaders for their support,” said Bhujbal after senior NCP leader Praful Patel announced his name.
HT had reported on Monday that Bhujbal was most likely to be deputy CM. The Other Backward Classes leader has significant clout in communities other than the Marathas who dominate the NCP and his appointment will balance caste equations in the party.
NCP wants ’99 formula
Senior NCP leader and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said on Monday that his party would want the Congress to follow the 1999 formula for distribution of ministerial berths and departments between the two.
The Congress wants a bigger share of the pie because of its bigger tally and wants the NCP to exchange important departments such as home, power and finance that the latter has held for the past 10 years.
“We will go by the 1999 formula. We will discuss it with the Congress high command if the Congress puts forth any official proposal to reducing our share and exchange of some departments,” Patel said.
The NCP won 62 seats in the October 13 Assembly polls, nine less than it won in 2004. But it claimed the support of 17 Independents, most of them NCP rebels, on Monday taking its tally to 79. The Congress won 82 seats and has claimed the support of 14 Independents.
“The ministerial berths and portfolios should be distributed on the basis of seats won by both the parties. Since our seats are more, we want a bigger share,” Chavan told the HT on Monday.