Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. (Source: Patil’s official Twitter handle)

Former Congress Leader Vikhe Patil Gets Housing In Maharashtra Cabinet Expansion

Congress turncoat Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Sunday landed the plum Housing portfolio in the Maharashtra cabinet, which was expanded and reshuffled by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis with an eye on the crucial assembly elections.

Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who was previously with the Nationalist Congress Party, was allotted Employment Guarantee and Horticulture ministry. He joined the Shiv Sena last month.

Patil's appointment as the Housing Minister is being viewed as an intriguing political move by Fadnavis as the former, in his capacity as the Leader of Opposition, had frequently raised his voice against the issues concerning the Housing department.

Patil replaced the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prakash Mehta who is accused of permitting a builder to increase the floor space index in excess of norms in a redevelopment project.

Last year, Patil had alleged that the Chief Minister's Office struck a deal of Rs 10,000 crore with some builders in lieu of introducing some favourable changes in the Mumbai Development Control and Promotions Regulation -2034.

Political grapevine had said that Kshirsagar will get Public Health ministry, which was represented by former Shiv Sena minister Deepak Sawant.

Vikhe Patil and Kshirsagar, who currently are not members of either House of the state legislature, can hold ministerial charge for six months.

They have to get elected to the state legislature within these six months. But since the state polls are due in Sept-Oct., they can stay on their posts till the end of this assembly's tenure.

In a move that is viewed as a setback for incumbent Education Minister Vinod Tawde of the BJP, his organisational colleague and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar was allotted School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare departments.

Fadnavis entrusted the charge of Labour ministry to Sanjay Kute in the wake of elevation of Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar as the Minister for Food, Civil Supplies, Consumer Protection and Skill development.

Sangli Member of the Legislative Assembly Suresh Khade was given the charge of Social Justice department, earlier headed by Rajkumar Badole.

Anil Bonde and Ashok Uike have been allotted Agriculture and Tribal development ministries, respectively.

Shiv Sena's Tanaji Sawant has been given Water Conservation department which was represented by Ram Shinde before his elevation as the Minister for Marketing and Textiles.

Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal of the BJP has now been given additional charge of Food and Drug Administration, and Protocol departments.

Another BJP leader and Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh has been given the charge of the Department of Relief and Rehabilitation.

Among junior ministries, the BJP's Yogesh Sagar is made Minister of State for Urban Development, while Sanjay alias Bala Bhegade is given the charge of Labour, Environment, Relief and Rehabilitation and Earthquake Rehabilitation.

Parinay Phuke is given the charge of PWD (except public sector undertakings), Forest and Tribal Development as the MoS.

Atul Save will look after the departments of Industry and Mining, Minority Development and Wakf Board.

While Vikhe Patil and Shelar are among the eight who took oath as cabinet ministers, five others were inducted as junior ministers as part of the exercise, which was carried out on the eve of the state legislature's monsoon session.

Fadnavis said the cabinet expansion was for maintaining a regional balance and create an opportunity for other party workers to serve the people.

He insisted that no one was dropped for "poor performance".

While a total of 13 ministers were inducted into the state government, six serving ministers have tendered their resignations to the CM, all of which were accepted.

Speaking on Vikhe Patil's induction into the cabinet, Fadnavis said, "I have been doing developmental work and that is why new people are joining the BJP."

Vikhe Patil's son Sujay represents Ahmednagar seat as the BJP Member of Parliament.

With Sunday's expansion, the Fandavis government now has 41 ministers.

Bloomberg Quint

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