Jr.Thackeray, Ajit Pawar,35 Others Take Oath In Maharashtra
MUMBAI : Ajit Pawar was on Monday sworn in as Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister for the second time in two months — this time as part of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition government in the state — as chief minister Uddhav Thackeray finally expanded his Cabinet.
Senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut remained absent, reportedly upset over his brother Sunil Raut not being allotted a ministerial berth. Several allies of the Sena too were missing after the party allotted berths to three independents.
Pawar, who had tried to orchestrate a coup within the NCP by joining hands with the BJP, had taken oath as the deputy of Devendra Fadnavis last month, but the government had only lasted 80 hours, prompting him to return to the Sharad Pawar-led party.
In a dramatic turn of events, Mr. Pawar handed over his resignation to then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, resulting in the fall of the BJP-led government on November 26, 2019. Mr. Pawar, a nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, had been inducted as Deputy Chief Minister in November 2010, October 2012 and November,2019.
Recently, when NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was asked if Ajit would become deputy CM in the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP combine — known as the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi — he refused to make any clarification.
Ajit, on his part, had denied that he had engineered a revolt. “It was not a revolt. I was the leader of NCP. Did NCP remove me? Did you read (about my removal from NCP) somewhere? I have been telling all that I was in the NCP, I am in NCP and will be in NCP.”
Former chief minister Ashok Chavan, NCP leaders Dilip Walse Patil and Dhananjay Munde and Congress’ Vijay Wadettiwar also took oath on Monday. Another key name sworn in was Aaditya Thackeray, who became the first from his family to taste electoral success. Aaditya is likely to get the environment or higher education ministry.
Thorat and Nitin Raut of the Congress, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai of the Shiv Sena and Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP took oath along with Thackeray on November 28.
The BJP and Sena, which fought the assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
However, the state witnessed a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post. An irate Sena then joined hands with the NCP and Congress to form a government headed by Uddhav Thackeray, who took oath as CM on November 28.
According to the power-sharing formula agreed on by the three parties, the Shiv Sena would have 16 ministers (apart from chief minister), NCP 14 and the Congress 12.
The long-pending expansion of the MVA government took place with the surprise inclusion of Aaditya Thackeray, first-time MLA from Worli and grandson of Sena patriarch Balsaheb Thackeray. He is the first member of his family to have jumped into active electoral politics in this Assembly polls.
The Sena inducted 12 Ministers (eight Cabinet and four MoS), while the NCP took 13 Ministers, with nine Cabinet and four MoS. The Congress has 10 Ministers (eight Cabinet and two MoS). The Cabinet can have 43 ministerial berths, including a Chief Minister, since the size of the Council of Ministers should be 15% of the strength of the Assembly, which has 288 members.
The Uddhav Thackeray Cabinet now has four Muslim Ministers, including, Mr. Malik, Hasan Mushrif, Aslam Sheikh and Abdul Sattar. The gender representation remained inadequate with just three women Ministers taking oath, and skewed regional representation too had upset many.
The swearing-in at the Vidhan Bhavan in South Mumbai was not without any drama: Governor Koshyari protested to Mr. Sharad Pawar and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge about the deviation from oath by as many as three ministers of their parties.
When K.C. Padavi, a six-term Congress MLA from the Akkalkuwa-Akrani constituency started profusely thanking the voters for making him a Minister, the Governor started refused to administer the oath until the Minister repeated it again with corrections. Mr. Koshyari then gestured to Mr. Pawar and told Mr. Padavi, “This is no way to take the oath, please ask seniors here like Mr. Sharad Pawar and Mr. Kharge, they will guide you.”
(Bureau Report with Agency Inputs ).