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Fadnavis mulls expanding cabinet; Vikhe Patil, Mohite Patil may get berths

The ruling BJP is mulling an expansion of the state cabinet to induct leaders from the Congress-NCP to strengthen its position ahead of the Assembly elections.

mumbai Updated: May 16, 2019 00:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (Hindustan Times)

The ruling BJP is mulling an expansion of the state cabinet to induct leaders from the Congress-NCP to strengthen its position ahead of the Assembly elections.

A senior minister said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is contemplating an expansion of the state cabinet in case the party decides to induct senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil as well as senior NCP leaders Vijaysinh Mohite Patil and Jaidutt Kshirsagar.

While the sons of Vikhe Patil and Mohite Patil joined the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Kshirsagar openly campaigned for BJP in Beed district. Besides, there could be a minor reshuffle of BJP-Sena ministers.

Although the BJP is expecting a satisfactory show in Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha elections, the party leaders have noticed that the opposition Congress-NCP have been making a determined effort to regain lost ground in the state.

As such, the party is looking at making a dent in the support base of Opposition parties. Hence, a few prominent Congress-NCP leaders could be inducted as ministers in the state government, said the minister.

Vikhe Patil, who resigned as Opposition Leader in Assembly after his son Sujay contested as BJP candidate in Ahmednagar Lok Sabha constituency, is on his way out of the Congress.

He openly sought votes for Sujay who contested opposite the NCP candidate in Ahmednagar and for the Shiv Sena candidate in Shirdi constituency opposite a Congress candidate. Mohite Patil, who is the sitting NCP MP from Madha constituency, also supported the BJP candidate against the NCP nominee during the elections.

Kshirsagar too has campaigned for BJP candidate Pritam Munde against the NCP candidate in Beed district. BJP insiders said all three leaders are likely to join the party soon.

“The three are almost with the BJP. We are contemplating to make them ministers, which would create a favourable atmosphere for us in their areas of influence. Fadnavis is discussing the issue with party leadership and a decision is expected soon. If the decision is taken, expansion of the state cabinet can be expected in the first or second week of June,” said a senior BJP functionary who did not want to be quoted.

Vikhe-Patil is keen on a revenue portfolio, but could be given agriculture department. He was the agriculture minister during the previous Sena-BJP government.

There is possibility of a couple of legislators from BJP and Sena being inducted as ministers. Besides, there would be a minor reshuffle of existing portfolios.

“Food and civic supplies minister Girish Bapat, who contested the Lok Sabha elections from Pune, will resign if he gets elected. Pune is a safe seat for us. Sena has a vacant post of minister after Deepak Sawant resigned as public health minister after his term as member of legislative council was over. As such, a minor reshuffle is expected,” said the functionary.

First Published: May 16, 2019 00:09 IST