Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday expanded his nine-member Cabinet and inducted 10 ministers each from the BJP and the Shiv Sena at a simple swearing-in ceremony in Vidhan Bhavan. With this, the strength of state Cabinet has gone up to 30. Governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy to new ministers.
and Sena were sworn in as cabinet ministers and equal number of legislators as ministers of state from both the parties.
The swearing in function was attended by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his family apart from BJP ministers from the Centre Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal. Incidentally, opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) did not attend the swearing-in. Similarly, BJP’s poll allies Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Rashtriya Samaj Party were absent as they were displeased for not giving representation in today’s cabinet expansion.
In today’s Cabinet expansion, the BJP has preferred to bring about some regional balances, besides giving due consideration to seniority, loyalty and factions in its selection of ministers. On the other hand, Shiv Sena, which has agreed to play a second fiddle to the BJP, has gone by seniority, even candidates’ membership in the upper house was not a deterrent for selecting them for ministry.
The Sena has also gone for an urban-rural mix, ignoring discontent from assembly members for their neglect.
The list of BJP’s cabinet ministers included five time MLA Girish Bapat (Kasba Peth, Pune), Girish Mahajan (Jamner, Jalgaon), Chandrashekhar Bavankule (Kamthi, Nagpur), Baban Lonikar (Partur, Jalna) and Rajkumar Badole (Arjuni-Morgaon, Gondiya).
Bapat earlier declined to become speaker of the Maharahstra Legislative Assembly while Mahajan, who hails from the Gujar community, has been picked to checkmate BJP veteran and state revenue minister Eknath Khadse who is reportedly upset over not being considered for the chief minister’s post, which went to Devendra Fadnavis.
As far as Bavankule is concerned, he reportedly belongs to union minister Nitin Gadkari’s camp and has been at the forefront in taking up issues involving farmers and villagers affected due to pollution from coal-based power projects in his constituency.
Shiv Sena’s cabinet ministers comprised Subhash Desai, who was defeated by the BJP’s Vidya Thakur from Goregaon constituency. Thakur, who represents a large north Indian community, has already been inducted in Fadnavis’ cabinet on October 31. Desai, who was involved during talks with BJP for sharing power along with Sena MP Anil Desai, is a confidant of Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
Others include legislators from Mahrashtra Legislative Council Diwakar Raote, Ramdas Kadam and Dr Dipak Sawant. Both Raote and Kadam were ministers during the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government between 1995 & 1999. Sawant organizes medical camps for the Sena and is a part of the teachers’ union. Further, Sena legislator from Thane Eknath Shinde, who had assumed the post of leader of opposition in the state assembly on November 12, will resign from that position to take the oath as minister.
BJP’s ministers of state included Ram Shinde, who is of the Dhangar community, (Karjat-Jamkhed, Ahmednagar), Vijay Deshmukh (Solapur city-North), Raje Ambarish Maharaj (Aheri in naxal infested Gadchiroli), Pravin Pote and Ranjit Patil (both member of the Maharahstra Legislative Council). Pote, who is an entrepreneur and runs educational institutions, was elected from the local body constituency in Amravati inVidarbha region. Patil was elected to the council from Amravati Graduates constituency.
The Sena list of MoS rank has Ravindra Waikar (Jogeshwari, two time MLA and elected as corporator thrice), Sanjay Rathord (Digras, Yavatmal), Vijay Shivthare (Purandar, Pune), Dada Bhuse (two time MLA from the Malegaon (Outer) assembly constituency, has won the seat for the third time) and Deepak Kesarkar (Sawantwadi, Sindhudurg, who jumped to Sena deserting Nationalist Congress Party ahead of assembly poll).