National

Unrest in Maharashtra Cong. camp over Cabinet berths

Three is a crowd: Ashok Chavan, with Ajit Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray, will now speak to party MLAs.

Three is a crowd: Ashok Chavan, with Ajit Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray, will now speak to party MLAs.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

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Ahmed Patel meets Sonia over feelings of “raw deal” among MLAs

Days after the expansion of the Maharashtra Cabinet, there is unrest within the Congress camp about the party getting a “raw deal” in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

With ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) likely to get both the Finance and the Home portfolios besides 16 berths, a section of the Congress is unhappy over the reported allocation between the allies.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is reported to have discussed the Maharashtra issue with party chief Sonia Gandhi but there was no official word on the 45-minute long meeting on Saturday.

Apart from the Ministry allocation, the Congress stance on Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, especially a controversial booklet taken out by the Congress Seva Dal in Madhya Pradesh, has added to the tension with ally Shiv Sena.

“We are different parties with different ideologies and there would be differences over some issues. We expect the Shiv Sena as a political party to speak out but we hope it won’t affect the functioning of the government,” said a State Congress leader.

Several Congress leaders in Maharashtra are also upset at not being accommodated in the Cabinet, with MLA from Jalna Kailash Gorantyal issuing a fresh threat on Saturday that he would resign from all party posts along with his supporters.

On Friday, Congress workers in Solapur burnt an effigy of senior leader and State incharge Mallikarjun Kharge for including local MLA Praniti Shinde in the Cabinet.

A three-time legislator from Solapur City Central, Ms. Shinde is the daughter of veteran Congressman, former Chief Minister and Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

Supporters of senior leader and Bhor MLA Sangram Thopte had vandalised the local party office after he was not included in the Cabinet.

With 44 MLAs, the Congress has been given 12 berths apart from the Speaker post to Nana Patole. Distribution of portfolios have made matters worse as key Ministries have either gone to the NCP or the Shiv Sena.

Though the Congress was keen on having some of the key Ministries like Rural Development, Agriculture, Transport and Housing Development, it will have to settle with the Revenue and Public Works Ministries.

“We have got a raw deal both in terms of portfolios as well Ministries. We should have stuck to 14-14-14 formula where each ally would have got 14 berths. This way, we could have accommodated, at least, some of our 3-time MLAs who have been left out,” a Congress functionary familiar with the State told The Hindu.

Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, who was inducted as a Cabinet Minister in the December 30 Cabinet expansion, and State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat have now been asked to speak to the disgruntled MLAs and explain the situation.

“There are other ways of accommodating in the government including making the MLAs heads of corporations and cooperative bodies. We hope that will settle down in some time,” the Congress functionary said.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 5:49:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/unrest-in-maharashtra-cong-camp-over-cabinet-berths/article30480678.ece

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