Maharashtra: BJP bags lucrative and powerful portfolios as Shinde camp settles for insignificant departments

Former Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is a big gainer as he gets revenue & not to BJP stalwarts including Chandrakant Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar & Girish Mahajan

Sanjay JogUpdated: Sunday, August 14, 2022, 07:48 PM IST
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Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis | PTI
  • Although Shinde gets urban development, MSRDC rest of the ministers are allocated insignificant departments

  • However, BJP enjoys upper hand in the portfolio allocation as it gets lucrative, politically important and powerful departments which the party plans to exploit for its consolidation

  • Fadnavis hits the jackpot as he gets home, finance and planning, water resources, housing held earlier by NCP in addition to energy and protocol

  • A former Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is a big gainer as he gets revenue & not to BJP stalwarts including Chandrakant Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar & Girish Mahajan

  • Uday Samant will be new industry minister

Mumbai: Five days after the cabinet expansion, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday, on the eve of Independence Day and ahead of the monsoon session, made the portfolio allocation. The Chief Minister's Office released the list after it received a go-ahead from Governor BS Koshyari. Shinde will hold general administration, urban development, information technology, DGIPR, MSRDC, transport, marketing, social justice and special assistance, relief and rehabilitation, disaster management, soil and water conservation, environment, minority affairs and departments that were not allocated to other ministers. Shinde had held MSRDC during Fadnavis-led government and later in Maha Vikas Aghadi government along with urban development.

However, DCM Devendra Fadnavis will be in charge of home, finance and planning, law and judiciary, water resources, housing, energy and protocol. Incidentally, home (Dilip Wales-Patil), finance and planning (Ajit Pawar), water resources (Jayant Patil) and housing (Jitendra Awhad) were held by NCP and by getting these major departments Fadnavis plans to checkmate NCP which used its clout to increase its organisational base in the state.

A crucial revenue department has been allocated to Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil along with animal husbandry and dairy development and not to senior BJP ministers including Chandrakant Patil or Girish Mahajan. Vikhe-Patil, who had travelled from Congress to Shiv Sena and again to Congress before joining BJP ahead of 2019 assembly elections, has been given weightage not in the government but also in the party organisation as he comes from the cooperative rich western Maharashtra and he can be instrumental in mobilising resources.

Other BJP ministers including Sudhir Mungantiwar will hold forest, cultural affairs and fisheries, Chandrakant Patil higher and technical education, textiles and parliamentary affairs, Vijaykumar Gavit tribal development while Girish Mahajan, who is a close confidant of Fadnavis, will hold rural development and panchayats raj, medical education, sports and youth welfare.

Further, Suresh Khade, who hails from Sangli district and a lone minister representing the SC, has been allocated labour, Atul Save cooperation and OBC welfare and Mangal Prabhat Lodha tourism, skill development and employment and woman and child welfare.

The Shinde camp minister Gulabrao Patil got water supply and sanitation which he had held in the MVA government. However, former agriculture minister Dada Bhuse, who comes from the Nashik district, has been made the minister of ports and mining while former forest minister Sanjay Rathod, whose induction was criticised by BJP and opposition for his alleged links in connection with the death of Pune-based woman, will hold food and drug administration.

Another Shinde camp minister Sandeepan Bhumre, who comes from the Marathwada region, got employment guarantee scheme and horticulture while former higher and technical education Uday Samant is the new industry minister.

Tanaji Sawant, who was minister in the Fadnavis-led government, got public health and family welfare while Abdul Sattar, who hogged the headlines after the names of his two daughters appeared among candidates who have been debarred by the Maharashtra State Council of Exam for their role in the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) scam, held agriculture.

The Shinde camp spokesperson Deepak kesarkar, who comes from Sindhudurg district which is also the home district of union minister Narayan Rane, got school education and Marathi language while a former minister of state for home Shambhuraj Desai, who comes from Satara districts, has been allocated excise department.

Even though BJP was settled on the Deputy Chief Minister’s post while making Eknath Shinde, who staged rebellion with 39 Shiv Sena legislators and 10 independents the state CM, it has succeeded in getting lucrative, politically significant and powerful departments as Shinde camp had to settle on insignificant departments. BJP has been a big gainer during hard negotiations with Shinde camp as the departments it has bagged are not just to tighten its grip on the functioning of the government but use them to consolidate its position to achieve Mission 2022 to win BMC elections, Mission 45 to bag maximum of the total 48 Lok Sabha seats and score victory on 200 plus of the total 288 assembly seats with Shinde camp in Maharashtra in the next assembly elections.

A Shinde camp insider claimed, ‘’It may have won the war by overthrowing the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government but has lost the battle.’’ However, they said CM and DCM have held key portfolios for a while as the CM is expected to further expand his cabinet to induct the rebel legislators and independents and also give representation to women. Few aspirants from BJP will also be given ministerial berths. Shinde can induct another 22 or 23 ministers as the maximum strength of the cabinet is allowed at 43.

The CM and DCM were criticised by the opposition for delays in the cabinet expansion and later in the distribution of portfolios. The delay was due to severe differences between Shinde camp and BJP over key departments.

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