Maharashtra Cabinet expansion: Several Congress leaders upset after being ignoredLast updated on Dec 31, 2019, 04:22 pm
Yesterday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray expanded his Cabinet, more than a month after he took oath.
While all the allies, NCP, Shiv Sena, and Congress got fair representation in his team, some MLAs of the grand old party, including senior leader Prithviraj Chavan, are upset as they weren't inducted, reports NDTV.
Meanwhile, Chavan has claimed he was the one who "opted out".
In Uddhav's new team, his son found a place
In total, 36 MLAs, including Uddhav's son Aaditya and NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit, were sworn-in at Vidhan Sabha.
As per the arrangement of Maha Vikas Aghadi (the name given to unlikely alliance stitched after Assembly polls), Sena, got 14 ministerial berths, besides the CM post.
NCP got 16 ministerial berths and Congress 12.
Notably, Maharashtra can't have more than 43 ministers.
Ignored and upset, Congress leaders met Kharge yesterday
Now, Congress loyalists who were left out of the Cabinet are Chavan, Naseem Khan, Praniti Shinde, Sangram Thopte, Amin Patel and Rohidas Patil.
Upset over this, the leaders met senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge yesterday and voiced their concerns.
And a day after the ceremony, new ministers met former party president Rahul Gandhi at his Delhi residence.
Kharge and KC Venugopal also attended the meeting.
While Chavan's absence sparked rumors, he denied a tiff
The fact that Chavan, seen as a close aide of Sonia Gandhi, was left out was bound to spark speculations.
But the former Maharashtra CM refuted them, saying he wanted to make way for young leaders.
"This election has seen several younger MLAs getting elected ... they should get an opportunity to be a part of the ministry and show their skills," he said.
Apparently, Congress had its reasons for not including Chavan
Meanwhile, an unnamed Congress leader told IE it would have looked absurd if two former CMs (Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan) worked under first-timer Uddhav.
"That is why Prithviraj Chavan, who has vast political and administrative experience, was kept out of the ministry," the leader said.
Separately, Chavan's aide said his sour ties with Ajit Pawar was another reason why he wasn't included.
Reportedly, Chavan infuriated Ajit when he was the CM
"During the Congress-NCP regime, Chavan, as chief minister, had refused to clear several files put forward by Ajit Pawar. This had angered the NCP leadership and Ajit Pawar, who had not been on speaking terms with Chavan since then," his aide said.
So is Chavan eyeing national role? No, said the leader
However, Chavan, on his part, said he is happy and is not eyeing a national role, either.
When asked if he might become the state president for Congress, Chavan replied that Balasaheb Thorat was doing a "fine job" and there's no need for him to resign.
"Though he had become a minister, he can continue as Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief," he said.