Mumbai: Two ministers of the Maharashtra government allegedly got into a heated argument over a chair at the first cabinet meeting convened Tuesday by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The argument between former chief minister Ashok Chavan and former deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, a source privy to the meeting said, was about who would occupy a chair close to the chief minister’s.
It lasted, the source said, between 15 minutes and half an hour.
ThePrint couldn’t independently verify the claim.
While Chavan didn’t respond to repeated phone calls from this reporter, Bhujbal’s number was “out of coverage area”.
Speaking to the media after the cabinet meeting, state urban development minister Eknath Shinde denied the argument took place.
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The current Maharashtra government is an alliance named Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), whose constituents are the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Chavan is a member of the Congress, while Bhujbal is an NCP leader.
When the cabinet meeting started Tuesday, the source said, Chavan was already seated in a chair close to that of the chief minister.
Bhujbal, late to the meeting, walked in a short while later and headed straight for the chair occupied by Chavan, the source added.
Bhujbal then allegedly asked Chavan to vacate the chair for him. When Chavan asked why, Bhujbal said he used to sit at the same spot during his stint as minister under the erstwhile Congress-NCP government.
An argument ensued and only got worse despite efforts made by other ministers to defuse the situation, the source added.
Bhujbal subsequently had to find another seat for himself.
The participants of the meeting were discussing proposed amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act when the argument began.
Chavan is the incumbent public works department minister while Bhujbal holds the food and civil supplies department. Both are said to be unhappy with the portfolios granted to them in the current government.
Chavan had to settle for public works department instead of revenue, which he has held earlier and reportedly wanted again, while Bhujbal’s food and civil supplies department is seen as “unimportant” in government circles.
Chavan and Bhujbal have reportedly communicated their unhappiness over the portfolios to their party bosses, but to no avail.