Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, whose revolt against his party had precipitated a political crisis in the state last month, took oath as Maharashtra deputy chief minister on Monday as the Uddhav Thackeray-led government expanded the Cabinet, ANI reported. The chief minister’s son Aaditya Thackeray was also sworn in as minister.
Congress leader and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan also took oath along with his party colleagues Vijay Wadettiwar and Amit Deshmukh, who is the son of former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. Nationalist Congress Party leaders Nawab Malik, Dilip Walse Patil and Dhananjay Munde found a place in the Cabinet, PTI reported. The Cabinet has two women ministers – Varsha Gaikwad and Yashomati Thakur of the Congress.
Governor BS Koshyari administered the oath of office to 25 Cabinet ministers and 10 ministers of state at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai around 1 pm. The Cabinet expansion took place over a month after Uddhav Thackeray assumed office.
Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana had earlier announced that the Cabinet would be expanded on Monday. It had claimed that the Sena and the NCP would get 13 ministers each, and the Congress 10. The Cabinet can have 43 ministers as its strength cannot be more than 15% of legislators in the 288-member Assembly.
Last month, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai joined the state Cabinet from the Sena, while NCP leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Jayant Patil were sworn in. Bhujbal started his career with the Shiv Sena, and is currently out on bail in the Maharashtra Sadan scam case. Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat, who is the party’s state chief, and Nitin Raut were also sworn in.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has 105 MLAs in the state Assembly, the Sena has 56 while the NCP and the Congress have 56 and 44 legislators each. The BJP and the Shiv Sena had contested the state elections together in October but fell out after the results were announced due to disagreement over power-sharing. As a result, the Shiv Sena formed an alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.