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Maharashtra Cabinet expansion may be delayed again; Congress list not yet ready

MUMBAI: The much-delayed Cabinet expansion plan of the Shiv Sena-led government in the state, which was scheduled for Tuesday, may be delayed again.

There has been no official announcement on the dates, as the Congress’ list of ministers has not been finalised yet, according to both Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Congress leaders, like state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and other state leaders, are in Delhi to meet the party leadership to finalise the names.

Shiv Sena and NCP may get 13 ministerial berths each in the expansion, while the Congress may get 10 posts.

On Monday, in response to a question, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said his party’s list is final. In a stinging remark on the Congress, he said, “We don’t need to go (anywhere to get our names cleared).”

The remark comes as the Congress has not been able to finalise the names of those who are going to take oath.

Congress leaders said that there has been hectic lobbying for the ministerial berths in the party. Those who are likely to get berths are Ashok Chavan, who is looking at either Public Works Department or the energy portfolio. The other names, which have been finalised, include Yashomati Thakur, Vijay Wadettiwar, Vishwajeet Kadam. The party also has to make a choice between Varsha Gaekwad, the Dharavi MLA and daughter of Eknath Gaekwad, and Praniti Shinde, daughter of Sushil Kumar Shinde. Congress leaders said that since both are from the Dalit community, only one of them may find place in the final list.

The other contendors are Amit Deshmukh, son of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh; Amin Patel, Nassim Khan and Aslam Sheikh. Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s name has almost been ruled out for a ministerial berth.

Some Congress leaders said that he may be placated with the post of the state Congress chief. NCP leaders Anil Deshmukh, Hassan Mushrif, Nawab Malik, Jitendra Awhad are a certainty to be sworn in, along with Ajit Pawar, who is most likely to get the home portfolio.

From Shiv Sena, Diwakar Raote and Ravindra Waikar are some of the names that could find place in the final list. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in on November 28 with six ministers — two each from all the three parties.

Source: Economic Times