NEW DELHI: In a major
Eknath Shinde-led government
in Maharashtra, newly inducted deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has been given the important finance and planning ministry.
Eight of Ajit Pawar’s NCP colleagues who were sworn in as ministers on July 2 after breaking away from Sharad Pawar also received their portfolios.
The latest reshuffle has placed some key portfolios in the hands of the Ajit Pawar group of the Nationalist Congress Party.
Minister Chhagan Bhujbal has been allotted the food and civil supplies portfolio, Dilip Walse Patil has been allotted the cooperation ministry, Dhananjay Munde is Maharashtra’s new agriculture minister and Aditi Tatkare is the new women and child development minister. Cabinet minister Anil Patil has been given the relief and rehabilitation, disaster management department.
The other NCP ministers with their allocated ministries are Hasan Mushrif (medical education), Dharmrao Atram (food and drugs administration), and Sanjay Bansode (sports).
The cooperation department is currently held by BJP’s Atul Save and agriculture is with Shiv Sena’s Abdul Sattar.
Ajit getting the finance portfolio is significant given there was stiff opposition to it from Sena MLAs led by Bharat Gogawale and Prahar party legislator Bacchu Kadu, who complained that Ajit had blocked funds for them when he was finance minister in the erstwhile MVA government and was responsible for their walking out of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.
Uncertainty over further cabinet expansion still continues. While CM Shinde is keen on immediate expansion, the BJP has taken the view that it should take place after the monsoon session of the state legislature which begins on July 17.
On the party agreeing to accepting Ajit as finance minister, a Sena legislator said, “We left the Thackeray-led government to protest against Ajit Pawar.”
With the inclusion of 9 NCP ministers, there are 29 cabinet ministers in Maharashtra.
Shinde-led Shiv Sena MLAs apparently had objected to the allocation of Finance and Planning to Pawar.
With Tatkare’s induction, for the first time, a woman MLA has been given a cabinet berth in the Shinde government.
In the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Tatkare was a minister of state with several portfolios.