Ajit Pawar Back As Deputy CM As Uddhav Thackeray Expands Maharashtra Cabinet
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expanded his council of ministers by inducting 26 cabinet and 10 ministers of state, including Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar who was sworn in as his deputy.
The Maharashtra cabinet expansion took place more than a month after the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government took charge of the state.
The 36 ministers sworn in on Monday include 10 cabinet and four MoS of the NCP, eight cabinet and four MoS of Shiv Sena, and eight cabinet and two MoS of the Congress.
With this, NCP leads the council of ministers with 12 cabinet ministers and four MoS, the Shiv Sena has 10 cabinet ministers and four MoS while the Congress has 10 cabinet ministers and two MoS.
Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister. Former Maharashtra CM and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray were among the cabinet ministers who took oath. Senior Congress leader and former CM Prithviraj Chavan did not find place in the Thackeray government.
This was the second time in just over a month that Pawar took oath for the post. He had on Nov. 23 taken oath as deputy chief minister after he rebelled against the NCP and joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party. He resigned on NOv. 26, leading to the collapse of the three-day Devendra Fadnavis government.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath of office and secrecy to the newly inducted ministers in the Vidhan Bhavan premises.
The Shiv Sena kept its senior leaders Ramdas Kadam and Diwakar Raote, who were ministers in the previous Fadnavis-led government, out of the new council of ministers.
Instead, it included allies Shankarrao Gadakh (of Krantikari Shetkari Paksha) as cabinet minister, and Rajendra Patil Yedravkar (Independent) and Bachhu Kadu (Prahar Janshakti Party) as ministers of state.
Senior NCP leaders Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, who were ministers in the previous Congress-NCP government, also found place in the ministry. They had lost the 2014 Maharashtra elections, but emerged victorious in the 2019 polls.
NCP leader and former Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse Patil, former leader of opposition in the legislative council, Dhananjay Munde, and former leader of opposition in the assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar, were also sworn in.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar were among those present at the swearing-in ceremony.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Uddhav Thackeray was formed on Nov. 28.
Balasaheb 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 alongwith Thackeray on that day.
Maharashtra can have a maximum of 43 ministers.
The size of council of ministers cannot exceed 15 percent of the total number of MLAs, which is 288 in the state.
The Shiv Sena last month joined hands with the Congress and the NCP, its traditional adversaries, after its alliance with the BJP collapsed over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post. The Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs, the NCP-54 and the Congress 44 in the 288-member house.