Rural development minister Girish Mahajan, who was speaking at a party meet at Jamner in Jalgaon district, said, “There would be an extensive reshuffle during the cabinet expansion. Many will lose portfolios. I too am looking after three districts as guardian minister and handling three departments. But, now there will be 40 ministers and there is expected to be redistribution of portfolios.”
Cabinet Size and Vacant Posts in Focus
The cabinet under Chief Minister Eknath Shinde currently has 29 ministers of which nine are yet to get any portfolio. The maximum limit for the cabinet size is 43. Which means 14 more ministers can be inducted in the cabinet. While there were speculations that all vacant posts aren’t likely to be filled up now in one go, Mahajan’s statement indicates that all the vacancies will be filled up immediately.
In addition, there were speculations that some of the current ministers are will be dropped. Last month it was being said that five Shiv Sena ministers are likely to be dropped, while in past couple of weeks it is being said that at least two BJP ministers are likely to be dropped during the expansion and reshuffling exercise. Now that Mahajan has clearly indicated that, the leadership is certainly thinking to drop a few, one will have to wait to see which party is likely to get hit the worst.
Congress Leaders in Contact with BJP
During his speech, Mahajan also confirmed that some of the Congress leaders are in touch with the BJP bosses. However, he said, if they are inducted today into the party there are no posts vacant that may suit them.
“Many leaders are in our touch and leaders like Eknath Shinde, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar will take appropriate decisions in this regard at appropriate time,” he said.
Resolution of Legislative Council Chairperson Election on the Horizon
“We can’t have two Chief Ministers and three Deputy Chief Ministers and hence, I can not predict who will be inducted when,” Mahajan said. He, however, said that there will be major political churning in the state before the 2024 elections.
Mahajan also indicated that the issue of election of Chairperson of the legislative council too is likely to be resolved very soon. “We are expecting six-seven more MLCs to come to us. In assembly we now have a huge majority. Hence, all the issues related to the leaders of these houses will be resolved soon,” he said indicating that the power sharing agreement between the three parties has almost been completed.