While Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan talked of providing good governance at the Congress’ Mumbai headquarters on Friday, most of the party’s 82 legislators were busy lobbying in New Delhi for Cabinet berths.
Chavan said his job was to implement the Congress’ poll manifesto, not his own vision. “It’s team work. I need your full cooperation,” he said.
Narayan Rane, Balasaheb Thorat, Harshvardhan Patil, Varsha Gaikwad, Ranjit Kamble, Yashomati Thakur, Nilesh Parvekar and Sanjay Deotale were among the legislators who made their presence felt. Some city MLAs were seen at the Mumbai Congress office near Azad Maidan, where Chavan made a brief visit earlier.
Other Cabinet hopefuls, state party chief Manikrao Thakre and his Mumbai counterpart Kripashankar Singh, basked in the glory of having organised the chief minister’s felicitation.
Chavan sought to take a tough stand, saying he was not in a hurry to announce the portfolios and that he would discuss the matter with the party high command. This upset a few legislators.
Later, Chavan told Hindustan Times that he wanted only those who had the ability to deliver.
The state council can have a maximum of 43 ministers, including Chavan himself. The Congress has 23 of these berths, with the rest going to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The share of berths was finalised on the basis of the Assembly seats won by each party in the 2009 elections.
The NCP has already sworn in 10 ministers, including Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. From the Congress, only Chavan has taken oath.
An MLA from the city said on condition of anonymity: “My only hope is my godfather in New Delhi. Only he can make me a minister this time. I am going to Delhi in the evening and will stay there for two days to ensure I get a berth.”
The only woman Congress minister in the Ashok Chavan Cabinet, Varsha Gaikwad, was tense because of the growing competition. Her MP father, Eknath Gaikwad, trailed the chief minister over the past two days. She’s playing the woman card to beat another Dalit contender, Chandrakant Handore.
Ranjit Kamble, who made it to the Cabinet last time because of his late aunt and former Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Prabha Rau, sat forlorn on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, Chavan sought to build a few bridges by saying that his predecessors Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan had to quit before they were proved guilty of any wrongdoing because of media trials.