Congress unhappy with portfolios in Thackeray cabinet, says Balasaheb Thorat
State Congress chief and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat on Thursday said his party is unhappy with the portfolios it has in the three-party government and is expecting chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to consider its desire of getting two to three important departments for its ministers.
Thorat refused to disclose which portfolios they wanted in exchange of the ones they have, but senior leaders from the Congress said the party wants two portfolios — one from among rural development, cooperation and agriculture that can help them connect with rural areas; and another between housing and industry.
“Congress would be happy if we get extra portfolios in the cabinet expansion scheduled to be held on December 30. As we have to accommodate many of our leaders, we need more portfolios. But that is totally dependent on the chief minister who is the leader of our alliance,” Thorat said at a press conference.
Earlier, the Congress had wanted the post of deputy chief minister but later it sufficed with the Assembly speaker’s post. As per the portfolio-sharing formula of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA), the Shiv Sena has chief ministership, the NCP has the deputy chief minister’s post, while the Congress has the Assembly speaker’s post.
There were also speculations that the Congress is again asking for the post of deputy chief minister. On this Thorat said, “I have read such news but it is not true. We are going with our formula.”
According to party leaders, Congress top brass in Delhi is also of the opinion that leaders in Maharashtra should have bargained for key departments that would not just enable the party to influence the government’s functioning, but would also help them reach out to the people. As such the party unit in Maharashtra has been asked to renegotiate the portfolio allocation with Thackeray.
In the distribution of portfolios between three parties, Shiv Sena has urban development, home and industries while NCP has finance, rural development, cooperation, irrigation, public health and housing departments. The Congress has revenue, public works and energy departments. Several Congress leaders think the distribution of key portfolios is skewed in favour of Sena and NCP.
“If there are any chances of getting portfolios exchanged, it would be now when the cabinet is being expanded and the allocation of portfolios is not final. Later, it would not make any sense,” said a senior party leader on condition of anonymity. The senior Congress leader further said that the party was expecting rural development portfolio or agriculture portfolio instead of a less significant one.