Impasse over Maharashtra cabinet expansion continues, Ajit Pawar wants key portfolios, allies reluctant


Mumbai: Suspense continues over the much-anticipated expansion of the Eknath Shinde’s cabinet in Maharashtra even 10 days after National Congress Party (NCP) rebel Ajit Pawar was sworn in deputy chief minister, mainly due to continued impasse between the ruling allies. 

According to sources in Shinde’s Shiv Sena, a late night meeting between him and his two deputies — Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis and Pawar — yielded no results, primarily due to Pawar’s insistence on some portfolios.

It was the third meeting since Pawar took the oath of office on 2 July.

According to the Sena sources, the meeting, which was held at Varsha — the official residence of Maharashtra CM — saw Shinde once again reiterate that he would not give up his portfolios to accommodate the Pawar camp.

Pawar, who was finance minister under the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, has insisted on the finance portfolio, which Fadnavis holds. He has also been asking for portfolios such as energy and irrigation, as well as key departments like cooperation, rural development, and power.   

While Shinde has urban development, transport and public works department, Fadnavis has home and housing in addition to finance. 

Both Shinde and Fadnavis are unwilling to part with their portfolios, Shiv Sena sources told ThePrint, adding that the CM has insisted on ministers being sworn in and ministerial vacancies filled before portfolios are distributed. 

Currently, there are 29 ministers in the state cabinet that has a maximum strength of 43. 

Industries Minister Uday Samant, a Shiv Sena leader, told the reporters in Amravati Tuesday that the expansion would take place “in a matter of a few hours”. “But, whether 2 or 200 hours, I don’t know. But the cabinet will be expanded very soon after taking everyone on board,” Samant had said.  

On their part, the Pawar camp hopes the deadlock is resolved by Thursday evening.

“All these are speculations (deadlock). There is no such thing regarding portfolio. We all will come to an understanding and decision after taking everyone on board. Sometimes these decisions take time. But we are hopeful that by Thursday things will be clearer,”  Sunil Tatkare, spokesperson of the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP, told the media. 

Meanwhile, sources in the ruling Shiv Sena and the BJP hope that the cabinet expansion is done before the Monsoon session of the Maharashtra assembly starts on 17 July.

Amid this tussle, Pawar is reportedly scheduled to travel to Delhi to meet BJP’s central leadership. 

Also Read: ‘Not my fault I was born from a different womb’ — Ajit Pawar escalates feud with uncle

Deadlock continues

As uncertainty continues over cabinet expansion, legislators in both Shiv Sena and BJP camps are believed to be getting anxious.  But it’s not only them — Independents like Bacchu Kadu and Rajendra Patil Yadravkar, a former MVA minister from Shirol in Kolhapur, are hoping to secure cabinet posts.

Yadravkar was one of the leaders to support Shinde when he rebelled against the then undivided Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray in June last year, causing the latter’s government to fall.  

According to industries minister Samant, there were many “cabinet hopefuls” within his party as well. 

“So whenever the cabinet will expand, I’m sure Eknath Shinde will take appropriate decisions,” he told reporters.  “We are too small to tell anyone whom to allocate what portfolio. Shinde is our leader, and we trust him. So we don’t get into portfolio discussions.”

The Shinde camp remains jittery over Pawar’s induction, reportedly worried that their political space could shrink.

For context, a group of MLAs loyal to Shinde had cited the inadequate allocation of funds by Pawar, who was the MVA finance minister, to their constituencies as one of the reasons for rebelling against Thackeray.

Sources in the BJP claim the Pawar faction are keen on portfolios directly linked to people, such as cooperatives — the NCP wields significant control over the areas of cooperatives, especially sugar cooperatives and banks, in rural Maharashtra.

But the BJP is reluctant to allow them to have control over this ministry, the sources said.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: ‘I want to lead…’ — Ajit Pawar lays bare his chief ministerial ambitions days after becoming dy CM



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post

31 Residents Lose Rs 25 Lakh In 3 Months

Next Post

Why has Delhi Police imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 in flood-prone areas of the city?

Related Posts