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Maharashtra Cabinet expansion today: Will NCP’s Ajit Pawar get Deputy CM’s chair?

Maharashtra Cabinet Expansion today: Uddhav Thackeray to induct 36 faces. (Express Photo by Pradip Das. 23.11.2019. Mumbai.)

Maharashtra Cabinet expansion 2019: Over a month after the Maha Vikas Aghadi government took charge in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will undertake the first exercise to expand his Council of Ministers. As many as 36 new ministers including Cabinet and Minister of State ranks are expected to be inducted today.

Governor BS Koshyari will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers in the Vidhan Bhavan precinct. What will be interesting to watch will be the share and which portfolios the three parties decide on. The NCP as well as the Congress have been pressing the Shiv Sena for important ministries and this has been a bone of contention between the new alliance partners.

All eyes will also be set on NCP leader Ajit Pawar who made a dramatic return to the party after joining hands with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis in an overnight coup to grab the deputy CM’s chair. NCP supporters have been demanding that Ajit be made the deputy CM in the Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.

Multiple reports suggest that Ajit is tipped to get the deputy CM’s post. But when NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was recently asked about his nephew’s role in the alliance government, he refused to confirm anything.

At present, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government has six ministers — two each from the three parties. They are — Eknath Shinde, Subhash Desai (both Shiv Sena); Jayant Patil, Chhagan Chandrakant Bhujbal (both NCP); and Balasaheb Thorat, Nitin Raut (both Congress).

The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly has 288 chairs. As per the Constitution, the total strength of the Cabinet can be a maximum of 42 including the Chief Minister.

State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat on Monday said that his party’s list of the leaders who will take oath as ministers was ready. “There will be 12 Ministers from Congress out of which 10 are of cabinet rank,” he said. The list of ministers includes Ashok Chavan (former CM), Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh (son of former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh)and Varsha Eknath Gaikwad and others.

Over the past two weeks, Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders have held a series of meetings to finalise the names. According to the initial seat-sharing formula, the Shiv Sena will get 15 ministers apart from the Chief Minister, NCP 14 and Congress 12.

Meanwhile, ABP News reported that Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut’s brother Sunil Raut was earlier poised to get a Cabinet berth. But his name was dropped from the list at the last moment. Sunil is a member of the Legislative Assembly representing Vikhroli seat.

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Source: Financial Express