Ending two weeks of taut suspense, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde finally reshuffled his cabinet and entrusted the crucial Finance Department to the new second Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, who also managed to extract several plum departments for his team, here on Friday.
As per an official announcement, Ajit Pawar of the breakaway Nationalist Congress Party group got the Finance and Planning Departments despite strong reservations from the ruling Shiv Sena members, and even murmurs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The other BJP Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis retains Home, Law and Justice, Water Resources, Energy, Energy, Protocol, etc.
The CM will continue to handle General Administration, Urban Development, Information Technology, Information & Public Relations, Transport, Social Justice, Environment and Climate Change, Mining and any other unallocated portfolios.
The keenly-awaited exercise came after Ajit Pawar visited Delhi to meet the BJP top brass including Union Home Minister Amit Shah as the matter of sharing portfolios remained stuck for days here as the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi took potshots at the government.
Other NCP leaders who have been given new responsibilities are Chhagan Bhujbal – Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, Dilip Walse-Patil – Co-operation and Hasan M. Mushrif – Medical Education and Special Assistance.
Similarly, Dharmarao Baba Bhagwantrao Atram gets Food and Drug Administration, Dhananjay P. Munde given Agriculture, Anil Patil gets Relief and Rehabilitation, Disaster Management, Sanjay Baburao Bansode got Sports and Youth Welfare and Ports, while the sole woman in the cabinet Aditi Sunil Tatkare is given Women & Child Development.
The reshuffle of the charges given to Shiv Sena-BJP ministers carried out on Friday include -- Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil with Revenue, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, Sudhir S. Mungantiwar handling Forestry, cultural activities, and fisheries, Chandrakant B. Patil looking after Higher & Technical Education, Textile Industry and Parliamentary Affairs; Vijayakumar K. Gavit handling Tribal Development, Girish D. Mahajan given Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Tourism, Gulabrao Patil gets Water Supply and Sanitation, Dadaji Dagdu Bhuse - Public Works (Public undertakings), Sanjay D. Rathore given Soil and Water Conservation. Suresh D. Khade will handle Labour, Sandipan A. Bhumre - Employment Guarantee Scheme and Horticulture, Uday R. Samant retains Industry, Prof. Tanaji J. Sawant continues with Public Health and Family Welfare, Ravindra D. Chavan PWD (excluding public undertakings).
Abdul Sattar gets Minority Development and Wakf, Deepak V. Kesarkar handles School Education and Marathi Language, Atul M. Save gets Housing, Other Backward Classes and Bahujan Welfare, Shambhuraj S. Desai to manage State Excise, and Mangal Prabhat Lodha to look after Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The allocation of portfolios came two weeks after the NCP split on June 30, and Ajit Pawar and his team joined the Shinde-Fadnavis cabinet on July 2, though the proposal to expand the ministry has been put on hold for now.
In June 2022, when Shinde led the rebellion against the then CM Uddhav Thackeray and toppled the MVA government, one of the reasons cited was Ajit Pawar's brash working style and allegedly short-changing the allies in matters of funds allocation.
This month, after he joined the Shinde-Fadnavis regime, several Shiv Sena legislators had openly expressed apprehensions and some BJP MLAs were discussing a repeat of possible discrimination, though Ajit Pawar had declared publicly last week that he would adopt an all-inclusive style.
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