(PTI Photo)   (PTI12_1_2019_000023B)
(PTI Photo) (PTI12_1_2019_000023B)

Mumbai: After the first session of the newly-elected Assembly is over, expansion of the Uddhav Thackeray government is on the cards. But, the NCP is not eager to expand it before the winter session and the Congress-Shiv Sena are pressing to finish this exercise before the session.

Chief Minister Thackeray, along with his six cabinet colleagues, two each from the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP, were sworn in at a ceremony held at Shivaji Park on November 28.

Since then, the question is being asked about when this cabinet will be expanded. Earlier, it was said the cabinet will be expanded on December 3. But now, the three main parties could not reach a consensus about the timing of the expansion.

While the Shiv Sena and the Congress want it before the winter session scheduled to be held on December 16, the NCP want the cabinet expansion after the session.

The main logic behind this is NCP leaders want to keep Ajit Pawar waiting for a few more days. Ajit Pawar revolted against party chief Sharad Pawar, allied with the BJP and was sworn in as deputy CM in the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government November 23.

After the Supreme Court judgement to have a floor test by pro-tem speaker, he resigned fearing loss of face.

This revolt by Ajit Pawar has angered him and he is not in favour of appointing him as the deputy CM immediately. It will send the message that Pawar Senior punishes those who revolted against him.

How to face session?

But the real question before the Thackeray cabinet is how to face the winter session with just seven ministers? As ministers need to be present in both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, it will be difficult to attend the session for these ministers in both houses which run for long time.

Even after 5 days, CM Thackeray could not distribute portfolios. It has resulted in no work to ministers. "We will soon allot them portfolios as a temporary arrangement till the cabinet expansion," Thackeary told a press conference. The CM can appoint 36 more ministers in his cabinet.

There are 55 departments, which these ministers have to handle and answer questions and calling attentions in both the houses. The Shiv Sena has finalised their list. The Congress leadership is also in the process to finalise the names.

Rajeev Satav may join cabinet: Rajeev Satav, a close confidante of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, may join the state cabinet. He is lobbying hard for a key cabinet portfolio. He was a legislator during the 2009-2014 from Kalamnuri in Hingoli district.

In 2014, he was elected to the Lok Sabha along with Ashok Chavan. But he refused to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. His family is considered a loyalist to the Congress. He belongs to Mali caste, which is OBC in the state.

The Congress may send him to the cabinet to expand its mass base in the OBCs and the state. He is currently in charge of Gujarat. Leaders like Vijay Wadettiwar are also expecting a key portfolio in the cabinet.

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Free Press Journal