NEW DELHI :
Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray as a minister on Monday in the first expansion of the council of ministers in Maharashtra, led by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
A total of 26 cabinet ministers and 10 ministers of state (MoS), representing all the three alliance partners, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress, were sworn in on Monday. The expansion of the council of ministers comes nearly a month after Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in along with six other ministers, two each of all the three allies.
Of the 36 ministers sworn in on Monday, the NCP got 10 cabinet and four MoS posts, with the Shiv Sena getting eight cabinet and four MoS posts, and the Congress eight cabinet and two MoS ministers. Overall, the NCP has the maximum representation in the cabinet and council of ministers, although the chief minister is from the Shiv Sena.
In all, the NCP has 12 cabinet ministers and four MoS, the Shiv Sena has 10 cabinet ministers and four MoS, and the Congress 10 cabinet ministers and two MoS. Including the chief minister, there are 43 ministers in the state, the maximum given that it cannot exceed 15% of the total strength of the assembly which is 288.
In the assembly elections in October, the Shiv Sena won 56 seats, the NCP won 54, and the Congress 44. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is now in Opposition, was the single largest party with 105 seats but could not prove its strength because of differences with Shiv Sena, its former ally.
The leaders who took oath on Monday include former chief minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan, NCP leader and former assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil, former leader of Opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde, and former leader of Opposition in the assembly Vijay Wadettiwar. NCP’s Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh were also sworn in.
Shankarrao Gadakh of the Krantikari Shetkari Paksha was also inducted as cabinet minister on Monday, while Rajendra Patil Yedravkar, an independent, and Bachhu Kadu of the Prahar Janshakti Party, were made ministers of state.
Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, was earlier sworn in as deputy chief minister along with BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who had taken oath as chief minister. However, Ajit Pawar resigned three days later, leading to the fall of the government. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress then joined hands and proved their majority as an alliance.
Aaditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray, is the first member of the Thackeray family to contest elections and is tipped to play a key role not just in the state government but also in the party.
The swearing-in on Monday also stood out for the number of political dynasts who took oath, including Aaditya Thackeray, Ajit Pawar, Ashok Chavan, NCP’s Aditi Tatkare, and Amit Deshmukh and Vishwajit Kadam of the Congress.
The oath-taking ceremony on Monday was held at the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai. The oath of office and secrecy was administered by governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. The ceremony was attended by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar and other senior leaders of the ruling alliance.
PTI contributed to this story.