Speculations are rife over portfolio allocation to new ministers in the Eknath Shinde cabinet. However, sources within government have indicated that the portfolio allocation is unlikely to be completed before yet another expansion of the cabinet, which is likely to come in about a week's time.
The first cabinet meeting after the induction of Ajit Pawar and his eight colleagues from the NCP took place on Tuesday. Speculatiuons over who will get what portfolio were rife before the meeting. However, it became clear after the meeting that it was primarily an exercise of introduction of the newly inducted ministers with other cabinet colleagues. Though it was being said that Chief Minister Shinde had discussions with the two deputy Chief Ministers regarding portfolio allocations, the information couldn’t be verified.
Shiv Sainiks willing to take less for greater cause
The Shiv Sena MLAs who had revolted against the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray under the leadership of Shinde appeared to have some apprehensions about the portfolio allocations. When asked, Bharat Gogawale, the MLA from mahad in Raigad, said, “Now that a new party has joined in, it is obvious that we will get a lesser share. We are ready for that looking at the greater cause.”
Education Minister Deepak Kesarkar, when asked about the outcry during the Thackeray government against the then finance minister Ajit Pawar over not allocating enough funds to Shiv Sena MLAs, he said the outcry was aimed at Thackeray more than Pawar.
“Every leader would give priority to his partymen. So, whatever Ajit Dada was doing back then is understandable. But, we were frustrated that our own leader was unwilling to do anything about it. Thackeray never asked Pawar to increase allocation or be judicious,” Kesarkar said adding that any such situation is unlikely now since the leaders are proactive and caring.
However, he too expressed complete ignarence about who is likely to get which portfolio.
NCP likely to get major share
As per the speculations, the NCP is likely to get ministries like revenue, finance, culture, agriculture, minority affairs, labour, OBC, women and child development, tribal affairs, food and civil supplies etc.
The maximum size of the state cabinet can be 43. Currently there are 29 ministers, 10 from the BJP, 10 from the Shiv Sena and 9 from the NCP. The NCP has more experienced ministers and hence the party is likely to get 4-5 cabinet berths and other junier berths. With Shiv Sena ministers making it clear that they won’t mind giving finance portfolio to Pawar, the major obstacle is believed to have been removed.
Hence, it can be expected that in the forthcoming days, the right candidates from among the BJP and the Shiv Sena would be chosen to fill in the 14 vacancies in the state cabinet and more members from the Shiv Sena and the BJP will be inducted in the cabinet. Whether the leaders fill up all the 14 vacancies or keep some intact to some more prospective allies too would be clear in a week’s time, sources have said.