In Maharashtra, all 9 NCP Ministers get key portfolios; Ajit Pawar gets Finance and Planning

Highly reliable sources from the Chief Minister’s Office said Chief Minister Shinde has expressed strong opposition to the decision of allocating the coveted Finance portfolio to Ajit Pawar

July 14, 2023 05:05 pm | Updated 08:19 pm IST

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde with Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar during the State Cabinet meeting in Mumbai on July 04, 2023

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde with Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar during the State Cabinet meeting in Mumbai on July 04, 2023 | Photo Credit: ANI

Nearly two weeks after the inclusion of Ajit Pawar, a rebel leader from the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as Deputy Chief Minister and eight MLAs as ministers in the ruling coalition, the Maharashtra Cabinet was reshuffled on July 14 with the former getting the Finance and Planning portfolio, the same office he had during the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal got the Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, while Dilip Walse-Patil will now oversee the Cooperation department. Dhananjay Munde will be the new Agriculture Minister replacing Shiv Sena’s Abdul Sattar, who will now handle Minority Development and Wakf, Panan.

This is the first reshuffle in his Council of Ministers by Chief Minster Eknath Shinde since he assumed charge of the top office after toppling the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in June last.

Aditi Tatkare became the first woman Minister in the current dispensation and will now hold the Women and Child Welfare Department.

Highly reliable sources from the Chief Minister’s Office told The Hindu that Mr. Shinde has expressed strong opposition to the decision of allocating the coveted Finance portfolio to Mr. Ajit Pawar. Mr. Shinde and his party leaders allege that Mr. Ajit Pawar played a biased role in allocating funds to Shiv Sena MLAs during the MVA regime, which affected the development of their constituencies.

“However, he went to Delhi and personally advocated for the important portfolio for himself and his party men,” stated the sources.

For the past year, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was handling the Finance and Planning department and also presented the Shinde government’s first budget, a massive ₹5,47,450 crore for the next financial year 2023-24, based on the principle of ‘Panchamrut’, with a focus on farmers, women, tribals, development of the infrastructure with substantial capital investment, employment, and eco-friendly development.

With the new allocations, Chief Minister Mr. Shinde will now oversee General Administration, Urban Development, Information Technology, Information and Public Relations, Transport, Social Justice, Environment and Climate Change, Mining, and other departments which were not assigned to other Ministers.

Mr. Fadnavis will handle Home, Law and Justice, Water Resources and Irrigation Development, Energy and Parliamentary Affairs

Among other leaders, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil was given the Revenue, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy Development and Sudhir Sachhidanand Mungantiwar will handle Forests, Cultural Affairs, and Fisheries, Hassan Mushrif will be overseeing Medical Education and Special Assistance.

Mangal Prabhat Lodha was given Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation; Atul Moreshwar Save — Housing, Other Backward Classes Welfare and skill development; Shambhuraj Shivajirao Desai — State Excise; Deepak Vasant Kesarkar — School Education and Marathi Language; Dharmarao Babasaheb Ataram — Food and Drug Administration; Suresh Bhau Dada Khade — Labour; Sandipan Asaram Bhumre — Employment Guarantee Scheme and Horticulture; Uday Ravindra Samant — Industries; Prof. Tanaji Jaywant Sawant — Public Health and Family Welfare; and Ravindra Dattatray Chavan — Public Works (Public Undertaking).

Other Ministers are: Girish Dattatray Mahajan — Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Tourism; Gulabrao Patil — Water Supply and Sanitation; Sanjay Dulichand Rathod — Soil and Water Conservation; Chandrakantdada Patil — Higher and Technical Education, Textile Industry, and Parliamentary Affairs; Vijaykumar Krishnarao Gavit — Tribal Development.

At present, the Maharashtra Cabinet consists of 29 Ministers, including Chief Minister Shinde and his two deputies — Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Ajit Pawar, out of a total capacity of 43. “With nine of the NCP MLAs swearing in as ministers, only 14 berths are left in the Cabinet which should be divided between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. Our [Shiv Sena] MLAs are clearly upset with the NCP getting plum portfolios,” a senior leader from the Shiv Sena said, confirming that Mr. Shinde was upset with Mr. Ajit Pawar getting the Finance portfolio.

In preparation for the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Assembly, Mr. Ajit Pawar on Friday also held a high-level meeting with the officials of the Finance department.

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