Six Maharashtra ministers take oath after hectic back-room negotiation
The events that led up to six ministers of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi taking oath in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government on Thursday was on account of fast-paced developments soon after the Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party held a marathon meeting a day before to hammer out a power-sharing deal.
The NCP, which saw a split after supremo Sharad Pawar’s nephew, Ajit Pawar, allied with Devendra Fadnavis last week, before returning to the party fold on Wednesday, saw hectic parlays over the post of the deputy chief minister. On Thursday, two NCP leaders, Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal were sworn in. The party zeroed in on the two leaders of the Maratha and OBC communities, respectively, late on Wednesday. While Patil is a senior leader of the party, Bhujbal has been a deputy chief minister of the state.
Ajit Pawar is reportedly eyeing the deputy CM post after he resigned from the post that he was sworn into on Saturday, alongside Fadnavis. The duo resigned on Tuesday, following a Supreme Court order to prove their numbers within a day. On Thursday, Ajit Pawar had meeting with Sharad Pawar at the latter’s residence. He then told reporters, “I am not upset. I am not being sworn in today, but the decision about me being inducted in the cabinet will be taken in a party meeting after the trust vote of the government.”
“Party chief Sharad Pawar will take a decision on this,” senior party leader Praful Patel, when asked about Ajit Pawar’s appointment as deputy CM post.
Meanwhile, in the Congress camp, a leader to be sworn in as minister on Thursday was reportedly replaced, following hectic lobbying. On Thursday, Nitin Raut and Balasahab Thorat were sworn in. It was expected that besides Thorat, either former CM Ashok Chavan, or tribal leader KC Padvi would be inducted in the cabinet. Raut, who is a prominent Dalit leader from the Vidarbha region, was sworn in after leaders felt that the region, which gave the highest number of legislators to the party, should be represented in Thursday’s ceremony.
“The MLAs from Vidarbha wish to have representation in the cabinet and it has been conveyed to the senior leaders,” Raut said hours before the swearing-in ceremony.
Political analyst Hemant Desai said, “The lobbying and deliberation went on in both the parties till the last minute. I think Ajit Pawar is unlikely to be sworn in as deputy CM even in second round as it will send a wrong message that Sharad Pawar bowed before the pressure from his nephew.”