CM Thackeray expands Maharashtra Cabinet, Ajit Pawar sworn in as Deputy CM

PTI

Mumbai: NCP leader Ajit Pawar shakes hands with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during the swearing in ceremony for State cabinet expansion at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. Pawar took oath as the Deputy Maharashtra Chief Minister today. (PTI Photo)

Mumbai: NCP leader Ajit Pawar shakes hands with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during the swearing in ceremony for State cabinet expansion at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. Pawar took oath as the Deputy Maharashtra Chief Minister today. (PTI Photo)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expanded his council of ministers by inducting 26 Cabinet and 10 ministers of state, including NCP leader Ajit Pawar who was sworn in as deputy chief minister.

The expansion took place more than a month after the Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government took charge of the state.

The 36 ministers sworn in on Monday include 10 Cabinet and four ministers of state of the NCP, eight Cabinet and four MoS of Shiv Sena, eight Cabinet and two MoS of the Congress.

With this, NCP leads 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.

The state now has 43 ministers, including the CM.

Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister, while former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray were among the Cabinet ministers who took oath.

Pawar was sworn in to the post for the second time in just over a month.

Earlier, Pawar took oath as deputy CM on November 23 after he rebelled against the NCP and joined hands with the BJP. However, he resigned on November 26, leading to collapse of the three-day Devendra Fadnavis government.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan did not find place in Thackeray’s ministry.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath of office and secrecy to the newly inducted ministers in the Vidhan Bhavan (state legislature) premises.

The Shiv Sena kept its senior leaders Ramdas Kadam and Diwakar Raote, who were ministers in the previous Devendra 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.

The two leaders were defeated in the 2014 Assembly polls, but emerged victorious in the state elections held in October this year.

NCP leader and former Assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil, former leader of opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde and former LoP in 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 Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray was formed on November 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 per cent of the total number of MLAs, which is 288 in the state.

The Shiv Sena last month joined hands with the Congress and 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.

(PTI)