Ten days after the breakaway faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) joined the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra, the issue of allocating portfolios to its ministers may be finally resolved, a top leader indicated here on Wednesday.
State NCP President Sunil Tatkare said that by Thursday evening, the party’s ministers in the government would be allocated portfolios and the three parties will continue to march ahead in full steam.
Nine leaders of NCP - Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse-Patil, Dhananjay Munde, Hasan Mushrif, Dharmababa Atram, Aditi Tatkare, Sanjay Bansode, and Anil Patil were sworn-in as Ministers on July 2.
This week, they were allotted their official residences, offices in Mantralaya and other requirements – barring their ministerial responsibilities.
Political speculation pointed at the NCP eyeing certain key portfolios like finance, agriculture, rural development, energy, etc, which are currently divided among the Shiv Sena-BJP ministers since the past over 11 months, each having an armful of departments.
However, the two parties are now apparently reluctant to part with their plum departments, leading to behind-the-curtains friction among the MLAs of the new entrant, NCP.
Responding to this, Tatkare claimed that the NCP has not made any demand for any specific portfolios and assured that the matter would be amicably sorted out by Thursday evening.
The surprise entry of NCP has led to many heart-burns among the ministerial hopefuls of the Shiv Sena-BJP and the independents group supporting the government for the past 13 months.
The independents' group leader Bachhu Kadu, has openly expressed grouse several times at how his supporters propping up the government have been given a raw deal.
A harried Kadu has also opposed the plans to give Pawar the crucial Finance department claiming he may give them a step-motherly treatment in allocation of funds – a serious concern just a year before the elections due in October 2024.
Hoping to soothe the ruffled feathers on all fronts, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde may also expand his cabinet to accommodate a few in the 14 vacancies that still exist to achieve the full strength of 43 ministers.
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