Union Cabinet expansion: Narayan Rane gets charge of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

Rajya Sabha MP and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane, who was inducted into the Union Cabinet on Wednesday was given the charge of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The ministry was initially under Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Today, a total of 43 leaders were sworn in as the ministers of Union Cabinet at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Narayan Rane joined the BJP in October 2019 after switching over to the Congress in from the Shiv Sena in 2005 and then leaving the Congress to form the short-lived Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha in 2017. A formidable Maratha leader from the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Rane has held multiple portfolios in the Maharashtra government in the past, but never made it to the Union Cabinet. The BJP is most likely to use him to counter Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, with whom the party has had a blow-hot, blow-cold relationship.

Rane has had a checkered political career since 2014. After losing his Assembly seat, which he had won six times since 1990, in the 2014 Assembly election and then being defeated in a byelection in 2015 -- both under the Congress banner -- Rane drifted away from the Grand Old Party. Together with his sons Nitesh and Nilesh, he floated the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha in 2017 and announced his support for the BJP.

In 2019, the BJP gave an Assembly ticket to Nitesh Rane from the Konkan region and later, Narayan Rane got a Rajya Sabha Seat from the BJP quota. Rane was made Chief Minister by Balasaheb Thackeray in 1999, when the then incumbent, Manohar Joshi, was asked to step down from the post. In 2005, the

Shiv Sena expelled Rane, accusing him of engaging in anti-party activities. That was when Rane joined the Congress and was immediately made the state's revenue minister.

After the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, Vilasrao Deshmukh stepped down as chief minister and Ashok Chavan replaced him. Rane was upset by this move, for, according to him, he had been promised the post by the Congress high command. Rane protested against the high command and paid for it by getting suspended. But it was revoked after he apologised to Sonia Gandhi.

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