Compact cabinet: BJP sticks to tried and tested formula in Maharashtra

Updated on Oct 31, 2014 10:12 PM IST
The BJP tried to balance regional, social and caste factors while selecting a team of 10, which will later be expanded if the Shiv Sena decides to join the government.
Hindustan Times | ByDharmendra Jore, Mumbai

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not divert from tradition when it came to forming its first Cabinet in the state.

With expected faces taking oath on Friday, the only difference, however, was the compact composition of the council of minister.

The BJP tried to balance regional, social and caste factors while selecting a team of 10, which will later be expanded if the Shiv Sena decides to join the government.

The council of minister has highly qualified members, barring two. Also, eight ministers are above 50 years. No turncoat has been given a berth.

All those who took the oath on Friday, including chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, are die-hard BJP-RSS loyalists, though they may have their personal affiliation with a particular faction in the party.

Fadnavis, a Brahmin, now has two Marathas – Vinod Tawde and Chandrakant Patil — in his team.

Tawde comes from Mumbai and also represents the lower Konkan area. Patil, meanwhile, represents southern parts of western Maharashtra where the BJP has made inroads since the Lok Sabha elections. The party wants to strengthen its base further in the region.

Patil was drafted in the team despite being a member of the upper house. A feather is his cap is his closeness with the party’s national president, Amit Shah.

Mumbai, meanwhile, has a heavier share. Apart from Tawde, who is an electronics engineer, the city has two more ministers — Prakash Mehta, who represents the party's dedicated vote bank of Gujaratis, and Vidya Thakur, a north Indian from Goregaon.

While Mehta quit studies after passing Class 10, Thakur could not pursue her education after Class 8.

Senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who was the Opposition leader in Assembly, is from north Maharashtra’s dominant Leva Patil community. He gave up his studies during the final year of BCom to join politics.

Pankaja Munde, daughter of late BJP strongman Gopinath Munde, is the party’s new other backward class (OBC) face in the cabinet. She has a degree in science from Mumbai’s Ruia College.

Munde is the only minister from central Maharashtra where the party has won 15 MLAs — 13 more than 2009. The region is expected to get either a minister or the speaker’s post.

Sudhir Mungantiwar from Chandrapur in Vidarbha is a close associate of Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, who was also in the race for the chief minister’s post.

Mungantiwar has several post-graduate degrees in humanities under his belt.

Vishnu Savara, who has done his graduation, represents the tribal community of the state and comes from Thane's tribal belt.

Dalit face from Pune, Dilip Kamble, is a graduate from Pune University.

Four ministers — Khadse, Mehta, Mungantiwar and Kamble — have experienced working the erstwhile BJP-Sena government.

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