Rumblings continue in Maharashtra govt
The rumblings of discontent over the cabinet expansion in Maharashtra continued on Saturday, even as officials said late in the evening that the government had finalised portfolios to be allocated to the ministers and a formal nod from governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was awaited.
While there were reports that irked Shiv Sena leader Abdul Sattar threatened to resign over not being given a cabinet berth, he clarified he had not quit. “I have not resigned. I am going to talk to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. After that, whatever decision will be taken by the CM, we will accept it,” he said.
The cabinet expansion of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government was carried out on Monday, but the allotment of portfolios remained to be completed as of press time on Saturday.
Thackeray inducted 36 ministers into his council. The state cabinet now has a full strength of 43 ministers. Sena has 15 ministers, including four junior ministers; the Nationalist Congress Party has 16 ministers, including four junior ministers; the Congress has 12 ministers including two junior ministers.
Earlier in the day, Sena leaders dismissed reports that Sattar, who is a minister of state, had quit because he wanted a cabinet berth. Sattar had crossed over to Sena from Congress in September 2019 ahead of assembly elections in Maharashtra last year.
Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said he was not aware of Sattar’s resignation. He, however, said: “The Sena does not have many portfolios in its quota. Everybody has to adjust. According to me, the chief minister has given respect to Abdul Sattar ji and made him a minister. Those who are upset [over not being made ministers] are not originally from the Sena. They will take time to adjust to the system.”
Congress MLA from Jalna Kailash Gorantyal, meanwhile, said he would resign from party posts along with several office-bearers and workers over not being made a minister.
“I will meet Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Balasaheb Thorat and submit my resignation from party posts. Party members of the Jalna Municipal Council, Zilla Parishad will also submit their resignations along with me,” he said. “The party has neglected me and not given me justice,” he added.
A senior bureaucrat, who asked not to be named, said that Thackeray has not kept any portfolio for himself other than general administration. “The CM finalised the list after holding meetings with both the other parties. It has been sent to the governor for a formal nod,” he said.
The official said deputy CM Ajit Pawar could head the finance and planning department and the Sena chief’s son, Aaditya Thackeray, was set to get the new environment, tourism and protocol portfolio. The NCP’s Anil Deshmukh was likely to be the home minister, the official said.
The urban development department, which is considered a key portfolio along with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, was set to be run by the Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde, the official added.