Cabinet expansion: Pune dist gets three berths, western Maharashtra gets 10
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expanded his cabinet which saw the return of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister and induction of Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray.
While Pune district did get good representation in the cabinet with three legislators, including Ajit Pawar, were sworn-in as ministers, Pune city failed to make it to the Uddhav Thackeray’s expanded ministry.
In Monday’s swearing-in ceremony, Pune district’s Dilip Walse-Patil and Dattatray Bharne were included in the cabinet. While Walse-Patil represents Ambegaon , Bharne is an MLA from Indapur and Ajit Pawar is a seven-time legislator from Baramati.
With three cabinet berths from Pune, NCP workers say it will help them firm up their grip on the district where the party has won 10 out of 21 seats.
In Pune city, six out of eight seats are being represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while only two are with NCP legislators Sunil Tingre (Wadgaonsheri) and Chetan Tupe (Hadapsar)
On the other hand, western Maharashtra got a total of 10 berths in the Thackeray cabinet. The important position held by Pawar brings back western Maharashtra into power. The control of government shifted to Nagpur during the former CM Devendra Fadnavis government.
Of the ten berths, five are of cabinet ranks while the rest are of minister of state. Besides, Pawar, three other NCP leaders - Dilip Walse-Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Balasaheb Patil - and an independent Shankarrao Gadak were sworn-in as cabinet ministers while Satej Patil, Vishwajeet Kadam (both from Congress), Shambhuraje Desai (Shiv Sena) Dattatray Bharane (NCP), and Rajendra Patil Yadravkar (independent) took oath as junior ministers.
The only big name that was left out in the cabinet from Congress was that of Prithviraj Chavan, who is likely to get an important position in the party’s state unit.
“I was never a contender for a cabinet post. I am happy in the party and will continue to provide my services in whichever way I can,” said Chavan on being asked about whether he will be made state unit chief by Congress party.
This is the third time that Ajit Pawar has become a deputy chief minister; his first term in this position was under Prithviraj Chavan as chief minister during 2010 to 2014. He was also deputy CM for three days when Devendra Fadnavis took oath as chief minister in November, but resigned as the BJP could not gather requisite numbers.
The NCP and Congress together have won 39 of the 70 seats from western Maharashtra in state assembly polls held in October this year. The impressive performance of NCP by winning 27 seats in this region has helped the party regain its lost control over the stronghold.