'Sonrise' in Thackeray ministry, Ajit back as Dy CM

MUMBAI:

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expanded his cabinet by inducting 35 ministers -- including his son Aditya Thackeray -- comprising 25 of Cabinet and 10 of Minister of State rank. For the first time since 2014, the ministry has a staggering four Muslim ministers.

Nationalist Congress Party senior leader was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister for a record fourth time -- and a second time in two months.

Mumbai MLA Aditya Thackeray has been made a Cabinet minister, making it a first time in the state when a father-son pair of CM and cabinet minister will function jointly.

All the new ministers were sworn in this afternoon by Governor B.S. Koshyari outside the Maharashtra Legislature Complex, Nariman Point.

Welcoming the expansion, the ruling allies Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress leaders termed it as a "well-balanced" exercise by Thackeray giving appropriate representation to all sections, communities and regions in the state.

However, leaders of various smaller allies expressed their displeasure saying they were not given any ministerial berths nor invited for the swearing-in ceremony by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

Speaking to mediapersons later, Thackeray said the cabinet portfolios would be allocated within a couple of days.

He also dismissed reports of a rift or displeasure from several quarters, saying he has not heard any such thing, after conducting the first full-fledged cabinet meeting this evening.

The other heavyweights in the cabinet are Congress ex-chief minister Ashok Chavan, ex-NCP Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde, ex-Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil, and NCP National Spokesperson Nawab Malik.

The cabinet has three women -- NCP's Aditi Tatkare (MoS) and Congress' Varsha Gaikwad and Yashomati Thakur, both Cabinet rank -- though the Sena has no woman representative in the government for the present.

For the first since the previous Bharatiya Janata Party-led government which ruled 2014-2019, the Thackeray ministry has a surprising four Muslims -- Shiv Sena's Abdul Sattar Nabi (MoS), NCP's Malik and Hasan Mushrif and Congress' Aslam Shaikh, all Cabinet rank.

Other prominent names from the three parties include Anil Parab (Sena), Vijay Wadettiwar and Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh (Congress), Jitendra Awhad, Anil Deshmukh, Rajesh Tope (all NCP).

Besides, other Cabinet ministers are: Sanjay Rathod, Gulabrao Patil, Dada Bhuse, Sandipan Bhumre and Uday Samant (all Shiv Sena), Rajendra Shingane, Balasaheb Patil (both NCP), Sunik Kedar, K.C. Padvi (both Congress) and Shankarrao Gadakh (Krantikari Shetkari Party), an MVA ally.

The new MoS rank inductees are: Satej Patil and Vishwajeet Kadam (Congress), Shamburaj Desai (Sena), Shamburaj Desai, Dattatray Bharne, Sanjay Bansode and Prajakt Tanpure (all NCP) and independents Bachu Kadu and Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar (Sena supporters in MVA).

Party sources said that Mumbai has got a significant representation in the ministry including the CM, western Maharashtra and Vidarbha regions also got a fair share, but there are complaints of poor representation to Marathwada, north Maharashtra and Konkan.

Earlier, on Nov. 28, Thackeray took the oath along with six other ministers -- Eknath Shinde, Subhash Desai (both Sena), Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP), Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut (Congress).

After today's expansion the total strength of the ministry goes up to 43, including CM Thackeray and DCM Pawar.