Chavan debuts with berth pangs
Before Prithviraj Chavan settles into office and gets down to tackling the state's problems, there is one major task he must complete: finalise the list of Congress ministers. Dharmendra Jore reports.mumbai Updated: Nov 12, 2010 00:08 IST
Before Prithviraj Chavan settles into office and gets down to tackling the state's problems, there is one major task he must complete: finalise the list of Congress ministers.
Chavan (64) was sworn in as Maharashtra's 16th chief minister on Thursday. Along with him, NCP's Ajit Pawar took oath as deputy chief minister and nine other ministers from that party were sworn-in.
The Congress, however, could not prepare its first batch of ministers, thanks to the pulls
and pressures of various factions within the party. Almost every legislator wanted a Cabinet berth and lobbying was at its peak in Mumbai and New Delhi.
"The lobbying left Chavan with little choice. The Congress high command asked him to take oath alone. The other names will be finalised next week," said a Congress leader.
Chavan's problems were compounded because senior leaders, who he can't afford to displease at this stage, wanted him to include their relatives.
Former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh wants a berth for his son Amit, while another former CM Sushilkumar Shinde has asked for a junior ministership for his daughter Praniti.
Sacked CM Ashok Chavan was pushing for his candidates, while Mumbai MP and Union minister Gurudas Kamat recommended his own aides.
Senior leaders such as Narayan Rane, Manikrao Thakre and Kripashankar Singh also weighed in.
Congress sources said Chavan would have to accommodate people from all groups. "He will have to respect Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's recommendations as well because he wants some of his Youth Congress associates to get an opportunity," said another leader.
Several ministers lined up to meet Chavan at the state guesthouse Sahyadri, where he reportedly told them that the high command has sent him to Maharashtra to run the government in a non-controversial manner. "Chavan told us politely that the high command would take a final call," said a minister of state in Ashok Chavan's team.