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Patil may continue to be home minister

mumbai Updated: Nov 19, 2010 02:00 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
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The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is likely to induct most of its earlier ministers and retain their portfolios in the state cabinet, when the remaining ministerial berths are filled on Friday. The party has already inducted 10 ministers, all of who are from the outgoing cabinet.

However, there is uncertainty over the crucial home department, which is with the NCP.

According to sources, outgoing home minister RR Patil may retain the portfolio though deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was keen to take charge. The reason behind maintaining status quo is that party chief Sharad Pawar does not want to antagonise two senior leaders - Patil and Chhagal Bhujbal - at the same time.

Bhujbal, who was the deputy chief minister in the earlier cabinet, had to make way for Ajit Pawar. According to sources, Bhujbal, regarded as the party's OBC face, is unlikely to take his ouster meekly and may prove to be troublesome during Ajit Pawar's reign.

"The party top brass didn't want to upset another senior leader after Bhujbal. Overall sentiment was that the outgoing cabinet had just one year, so there is no need to waste time by getting new people in at this stage,'' said a senior NCP leader. Also, Patil is one of the party's most popular leaders with a mass following.

However, even if Patil retains the department, Ajit Pawar by holding two review meetings of the home department since he took over as deputy chief minister has already indicated that he will call the shots when it comes to important policy decisions.

Bhujbal is expected to retain his public works portfolio and may also be told to handle the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) as an additional responsibility. Pawar is also likely to retain the energy and water resources department.

Outgoing finance minister Sunil Tatkare is also likely to keep his portfolio.

According to sources, all junior ministers - Fauziya Khan, Sachin Ahir, Bhaskar Jadhav, Gulabrao Devkar and Prakash Solanke - will also continue to hold their positions.