Mumbai: The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government cuts a sorry figure as it has to deffer the much-awaited cabinet expansion to December 30, as the Congress (Grand Old Party — GOP) was unable to submit its list of legislators for a ministerial berth.
As reported by FPJ last week, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had proposed to expand his council of ministers on December 24 during his meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress general secretary and Maharashtra in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge in Nagpur.
Thackeray and six ministers, including two each from the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress were sworn in on November 28, and held the week-long session of the state legislature, which concluded on December 21. December 25 is a Christmas holiday and the solar eclipse is on December 26.
However, the Congress is still a divided house as the old guards like former CMs Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan and former minister Naseem Khan, who was defeated by Shiv Sena nominee Dilip Lande, are aggressively pitching for their induction in the cabinet.
But the young turks, including former ministers Satej Patil and Amit Deshmukh and legislators Yashomati Thakur and Vishwajeet Kadam are opposed, as they want new faces to get a ministerial berth. They are all camping in Delhi for a high command’s nod.
There will be total 43 ministers; of them, the Shiv Sena will have 15 ministers, including 11 cabinet, comprising CM and four ministers of state; the NCP 16 ministers, comprising 12 cabinet and 4 ministers of state, and the Congress will get 10 cabinet ministers and two ministers of state.
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Balasaheb Thorat, who is also the revenue minister, told FPJ, “The party high command is expected to approve the names.” He, however, declined to give any deadline for the same.
Another party leader said Congress never thought of coming to power, but now it is a part of the MVA alliance. “Time is ripe for party veterans to take a pause and give a chance to new faces,” he noted, adding, the party high command may appoint Prithviraj Chavan to lead the state unit. However, there has been no decision so far.
Two-time party legislator from western Maharashtra said Chavan duo and Khan are pressing for their induction on the grounds that the NCP is expected to give an opportunity to all heavyweights.
“Therefore, the Congress should induct seniors as the party should not be left out in decision-making. This is the argument made by old guards. It is now up to the high command to take a final decision,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Thackeray and Pawar on Monday met at the government guest house Sahyadri to discuss the cabinet expansion. Pawar said the combined list of his party and the Shiv Sena is ready, as the decisions are taken at the state-level unlike the Congress, which has to go to Delhi.
Thackeray and Pawar reportedly discussed the exchange of departments of home and urban development between NCP and Shiv Sena. At present, Sena is holding both these key departments.
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