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Clear Sharad Pawar stamp on Maharashtra portfolio allocation as NCP bags home and finance

Shiv Sena keeps urban development, CM Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya could boost Mumbai’s nightlife and stop deforestation as tourism & environment minister.

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Mumbai: Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) secured some of the most coveted departments, including home and finance, as the Maharashtra government portfolio allocation was finalised Sunday.

While ceding ground to the NCP on home and finance, the Shiv Sena has retained the big-ticket urban development portfolio.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led government, which was sworn-in in November, is a coalition administration comprising the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress.

The NCP also has in its quota health, food & drug administration and the cooperative sector, while the Shiv Sena has tourism, environment, industries, transport, water conservation, and agriculture. The Congress has received school education, higher & medical education, animal husbandry, and dairy development, among other portfolios.

Win some, lose some

Pawar loyalist Anil Deshmukh from Nagpur has been appointed the Maharashtra home minister, a portfolio traditionally held by the chief minister. The Maratha strongman’s nephew Ajit Pawar, the deputy CM, has got finance.

Ajit is said to have had his eyes on the home portfolio, but given his unpredictable nature — such as his shock, short-lived tie-up with the BJP last year — the senior Pawar put his foot down, multiple sources in the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the three-party coalition, told ThePrint.

Deshmukh’s appointment as home minister, the sources said, will allow Pawar to hold the remote control to the crucial ministry, which may not have been possible with Ajit.

Ajit, however, has his task cut out as he sets out to manage the finances of a state whose debt stands at nearly Rs 5 lakh crore. The state’s finance ministry will be closely watched as it juggles the several development projects on the anvil, including infrastructure expansion in the choked Mumbai metropolitan area.

CM Thackeray will oversee the General Administration Department, which will allow him to keep a tight hold on government staff, a task political analysts say is crucial to proving his mettle in the job.


Also read: Uddhav Thackeray, once a critic of dynastic politics, now has 22 dynasts in his cabinet


Tourism, environment for debutant Aaditya

Thackeray’s son and first-time MLA Aaditya Thackeray, 29, has been given a cabinet berth and will juggle the portfolios of environment, sports and tourism.

Aaditya was at the forefront of the Shiv Sena’s protests against deforestation in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony for a metro project. As environment minister, he is likely to dig in his heels against a proposed car shed in Aarey Colony and the destruction of mangroves for the Mumbai Metro, which is a joint central-state government initiative.

Sources said his appointment as tourism minister will see him push his pet projects — a deadline-free nightlife for Mumbai, roof-top restaurants and a host of other projects aimed at checking Maharashtra’s slide in tourist popularity.

The ongoing conservation of the state’s forts will get a fillip under him, the sources added, and he is likely to engage the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry in promoting the state as a tourism hub.

Congress leader and former CM Ashok Chavan, who is facing a probe in the Adarsh Housing Society scam, has had to content himself with the Public Works Department.

Chavan, sources said, was “very keen” on the revenue portfolio, which he has held earlier, but had to yield it to party colleague Balasaheb Thorat.

The Congress, the sources added, is treading cautiously where Chavan is concerned on account of the corruption allegations against him.

Eknath Shinde, the powerful Shiv Sena leader from Thane who was given the charge of the home department for a month, has been allotted urban development.

NCP heavyweight Chhagan Bhujbal, the former deputy CM who has earlier held powerful portfolios such as home and public works, has been sidelined with the food and civil supplies portfolio.

Bhujbal is currently on bail after spending two years in prison for his alleged role in the Maharashtra Sadan scam, which took place during his stint as PWD minister in the Congress-NCP government between 2009 and 2014.

A powerful OBC leader from Maharashtra, he is looked at as a unifier of the community by opponents such as BJP’s Pankaja Munde and Eknath Khadse.

Dhananjay Munde of the NCP, who defeated former minister Pankaja Munde from Beed’s Parli-Vaijnath constituency this election, has been allocated the social justice department — a portfolio he is not too keen on holding, sources said.


Also read: Importance of Ajit Pawar — why all is forgiven and the NCP leader is deputy CM again


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Uddhav Thackeray should be reminded of that English proverb: “You cannot have your cake and eat it too.” He had to bow to someone, and he chose to bow to Pawar this time. Picture abhi baki hai!!!!

  2. The NCP has earned its slice of the cake. It has 54 MLAs to the Sena’s 56 and has dropped its initial demand for a rotational CMship. The Congress should thank its stars it is back in the government. RG had given up Maharashtra as a lost cause, as per Ms Coomi Kapoor’s column.

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