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Dynasts crowd MVA’s first cabinet

The Uddhav Thackeray-led party kept its promise by inducting three independents who had extended support to the Shiv Sena before the government was formed

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In the Shiv Sena there was a tussle among its senior leaders, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress over key Cabinet berths in Maharashtra. There were many issues within the Shiv Sena, but Uddhav has hardly any magic stick to change the fate of his own leaders because NCP’s Pawar is the distributor of powers. The Uddhav Thackeray-led government expanded the Cabinet more than a month after he assumed office. Governor B S Koshyari administered the oath of office to 25 Cabinet ministers and 10 ministers of state at Vidhan Bhavan. Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister while Aaditya Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray’s son and an MLA from Mumbai’s Worli segment also got a ministerial berth. 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 too. However, the expansion left out some senior politicians such as Congress leader and former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Once the Congress used to describe the Shiv Sena as a party of ‘hooligans’, but now they have no choice but to take what is coming their way and keep quiet. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party kept its promise by inducting three independents who had extended support to the Shiv Sena before the government was formed. Shiv Sena MLA Bhaskar Jadhav, who has been upset over not getting a Cabinet berth, was not promised any such position. Jadhav had claimed that Uddhav Thackeray promised to make him a Cabinet minister. The Shiv Sena condemned the NCP MLA Prakash Solanke who resigned as legislator asserting that he was “unworthy” to do politics. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar has got the finance and planning portfolios while his party colleague Anil Deshmukh is the new Home Minister of the state. Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde has been given the urban development portfolio. Aaditya Thackeray, who has criticised the Mumbai Metro authorities for felling trees in the vicinity of Aarey Colony, has been allocated the tourism and environment portfolio.

Senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat has got the revenue ministry, a day after the Maha Vikas Aghadi government submitted its list of portfolios to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. With this allocation of portfolios, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP has got most of the crucial portfolios. Sharad Pawar’s party has walked off with key cabinet berths including Home, Finance, Irrigation and Housing ministries, besides the plum post of the Deputy Chief Minister. The NCP’s Anil Deshmukh got the crucial home portfolio, finance has gone to Deputy Chief minister Ajit Pawar, housing to Jitendra Ahwad and irrigation to Jayant Patil. Chaggan Bhujbal has got Food and civil supplies and consumer protection portfolio. The Sena’s 15 portfolios include Industries, Mining and Marathi language which went to Subhash Desai, Urban Development which has gone to Eknath Shinde and Transport and Assembly affairs, has Anil Parab at its head. The one crucial ministry the Congress bagged is that of Revenue which has gone to the party’s state chief Balasaheb Thorat. Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has got the Public Works Department portfolio while Varsha Gaikwad has got the Medical Education portfolio.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition now has to deal with unhappy legislators who, failing to get a ministerial berth, have threatened to quit. One of them, Kailash Gorantyal, said that he has already sent in his resignation to the state party chief. When there was split in the Congress and NCP, he was elected. When there was Modi wave, even that time he got elected. With this injustice being done to him, Gorantyal finally got fed-up and left. Shiv Sena leader Abdul Sattar, who got a ministerial berth has also threatened to quit as he was not made a cabinet minister. He had quit the Congress to join the Sena ahead of the elections. The resignation threats have brought cheer to the BJP camp whose coup attempt in November failed.

The Congress got the least number of ministries as it is the smallest party in the alliance in terms of the number of MLA’s. The party won 44 of the state’s 288 seats against Shiv Sena’s 56 and NCP’s 54 seats. The portfolio allocation indicates that the balance of power in the Maha Vikas Aghadi, made up of the three parties, tilts in favour of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The Maha Vikas Aghadi government had been facing criticism from the opposition BJP for delay in the allocation of portfolios despite being in power for over a month. Finally, the Aghadi has come up with its strongest cabinet.

During the cabinet battle, one can see how the newly expanded Maharashtra council of ministers has several leaders from political families. Be it smaller parties or the grand old party like the Congress, dynastic politics was in full display. Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray was sworn in as a cabinet minister in the state. Ajit Pawar, who has taken charge as Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister, is the nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Shiv Sena minister Shambhuraj Desai is the grandson of Balasaheb Desai, the former home minister from the Congress. Krantikari Shetkari Paksha minister Shankarrao Gadakh is the son of Yashwantrao Gadakh, a former Congress MP. Congress minister Ashok Chavan is the son of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan. Congress minister Amit Deshmukh is the son of former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. Congress minister Yashomati Thakur is the daughter of former Congress MLA Bhayyasaheb Thakur. Congress minister Sunil Kedar is the son of former Congress MLA and Minister Chhatrapal Kedar. Congress minister Varsha Gaikwad is the daughter of former Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad.

Congress minister Vishwajeet Kadam is the son of former Congress minister Patangrao Kadam. Congress minister Satej Patil is the son of Congress leader and former Bihar Governor DY Patil. Congress minister Balasaheb Thorat is the son of former Congress MLA Bhausaheb Thorat.NCP minister Dhananjay Munde is the nephew of BJP leader and former state and central Minister Gopinath Munde. NCP minister Rajesh Tope is the son of former MP Ankush Tope. NCP minister Balasaheb Shamrao Patil is the son of former Congress MLA Pandurang Patil. NCP minister Aditi Tatkare is the daughter of MP Sunil Tatkare.NCP minister Prajakt Tanpure is the son of former MP Prasad Tanpure and nephew of Jayant Patil.NCP minister Jayant Patil is the son of Congress minister late Rajaram Patil.

Now, the government has been formed and the cabinet is also set, the portfolios too are allotted. Let’s see how the family members in the Maha Vikas Aghadi contribute to Maharashtra. Over all, if you look at Uddhav’s cabinet, his son got priority with Pawar’s nephew Ajit along with some other members but most of the keens and kits are in queue for their turn. Seeing the family backgrounds and the dynastic majority on this privileged panel, hope this government provides better governance and brings some dynamic shift in state politics.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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