Maharashtra public health minister Deepak Sawant resigns
Failing to get re-elected to either of the two Houses, public health minister Deepak Sawant tendered his resignation on Monday. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has handed over the additional charge of Sawant’s portfolio to Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, the public works department (public utilities) minister.
Sawant’s term as a member representing the Mumbai division’s graduates constituency in the Maharashtra legislative council ended in July 2018. He had six months to get re-elected to the lower or the upper house of the state legislature.
Given the current strain in ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray chose not to nominate a Sena member for the cabinet berth. A Sena functionary said the party chief felt engaging in activity to give power to new members would not be good at a time when the Sena was talking tough with the BJP. Instead, Thackeray chose Shinde to hold on to the Sena’s share of cabinet berths.“It wouldn’t look appropriate to participate in the exercise to nominate another member for the post at the moment. So one of the ministers from the party was chosen to take the additional charge,” said a functionary, who did not wish to be named.
The party leadership’s decision is likely to upset a few legislators who were lobbying hard to bag the ministerial berth. The functionary said many legislators from rural Maharashtra were awaiting their chance to get the post.
Party insiders said Thackeray was unhappy with Sawant’s performance, which is why he was not considered for another term in the legislative council in July 2018. Sawant, however, said that he is not upset with the party, but he is now expecting a new role.