New Delhi: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, who was welcomed back to the party fold after what turned out to be an 80-hour stint as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister last month, is likely to be handed the same portfolio as cabinet expansion of the Maharashtra government takes place on Monday.
In dramatic early morning developments on November 23, the NCP leader, nephew of party supremo Sharad Pawar, had taken oath as Deputy Chief Minister along with the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, who took oath as the Chief Minister. The ‘rebellion,’ however, was short-lived and was ended by the NCP chief.
According to reports, as many as 36 ministers will be sworn-in, 10 of whom will be from the Congress, the junior-most partner in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government in the state. According to the power-sharing formula, the Shiv Sena will get 16 portfolios, the NCP 14 and Congress 12.
The total strength of the Maharashtra cabinet is 42, including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Also, of the two former Chief Ministers in Congress ranks, while Ashok Chavan is likely to get Public Works Department (PWD), Prithviraj Chavan, who was the frontrunner for the Speaker’s chair, which eventually went to Nana Patole, is likely to be made the state Congress chief after incumbent Balasaheb Thorat was sworn-in as a minister.
The swearing-in of the MVA government took place on November 28 with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray becoming the Chief Minister. Along with him, two MLAs from each party were sworn-in: Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai from the Sena, Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal from the NCP and Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut of the Congress.
Portfolios were allocated earlier this month.
The MVA government was formed after now-former allies BJP and Sena, who contested the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly Election in a pre-poll alliance and won a clear majority, split over the latter’s demand to share the Chief Minister’s chair for 2.5 years each. The BJP’s refusal, however, prompted the Sena to enter talks with the ideologically opposite NCP-Congress combine and eventually form the government with them.