Cornered due to the Adarsh housing society scam, the Congress did think of denying berths to some heavyweights in the Prithviraj Chavan cabinet, but having left with little choice to select from, it retained them all. Yet, the party has tried to salvage some lost pride by inducting new and young faces and by denying some seniors the departments of their choice. Alliance partner, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), however, has retained all its ministers from the previous cabinet, only reshuffled some portfolios.
The only major change for the NCP was Ajit Pawar, who was sworn in as the deputy chief minister last week, also took over reigns of the finance department and retained his hold over the power portfolio.
Despite a reasonable effort to maintain a social and regional balance, the Congress could not satisfy all factions within the party.
Though Marathas dominate the cabinet — Congress and NCP have majority leaders from this community — other sections of the society have been given a fair share.
Hectic lobbying, political and social considerations, and in some cases merit and ability to deliver saw seniors like Narayan Rane (industry); Patangrao Kadam (forest); Shivajirao Moghe (social welfare); Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (agriculture); Balasaheb Thorat (revenue); Harshvardhan Patil (cooperation); Rajendra Darda (school educations); Naseem Khan (textile, minority welfare); Suresh Shetty (public health); and Nitin Raut (EGS) make the grade again. Subhash Jhanak, women and child welfare minister in the previous government, was was dropped from the cabinet primarily owing to his dismal performance and his affinity with ex-chief minister Ashok Chavan.
Mumbai’s only woman MLA, Varsha Gaikwad, got a promotion to cabinet rank. Nandurbar’s tribal leader Padmakar Valvi, who was also inducted as a cabinet minister, got rewarded for his excellent work during party president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s functions in his district.
Among the ministers of state (MoS) from the previous government, Ranjit Kamble was retained his berth even as three others were axed for their nonperformance.
While a clean image and the age factor worked in favour of Madhukarrao Chavan and Sanjay Deotale respectively, who were inducted as cabinet rank ministers, Rajendra Mulak and Satej Patil were the new MoS in the cabinet. Rajendra Gavit, a tribal from Palghar in Thane, also got a berth in the cabinet, being the only legislator the Congress has from the district.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said he wanted to induct some MLAs from the Rahul Gandhi brigade, but it didn’t work out despite being his own idea.
With inputs from Ketaki Ghoge