Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expanded his over a month-old ministry by inducting 36 ministers, including his 29-year-old son Aaditya, while Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered oath to 14 ministers from NCP, 10 from Congress and 12 from Shiv Sena at Vidhan Bhavan (state legislature) premises in south Mumbai.
The expansion, which raised the strength of the state ministry to 43, came over a month after the Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government came to power.
The 36 ministers sworn in on Monday include 10 Cabinet and four ministers of state of the NCP, eight Cabinet and four MoS of Shiv Sena, and eight Cabinet and two MoS of Congress.
The NCP now has 12 Cabinet ministers and four MoS, the Shiv Sena has 10 Cabinet ministers and four MoS, while Congress has 10 Cabinet ministers and two MoS.
Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister, while former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray were among the Cabinet ministers who took oath.
Pawar was sworn in to the post for the second time in just over a month.
Pawar had taken oath as deputy CM on November 23 after he rebelled against the NCP and joined hands with the BJP.
However, he resigned on November 26, leading to collapse of the three-day-old Devendra Fadnavis government.
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan did not find place in Thackeray’s ministry.
There is speculation that he may lead the state Congress unit.
BJP leaders – and Sena MP Sanjay Raut – skipped the ministry expansion ceremony.
“This government has not fulfilled the expectations of Maharashtra’s farmers. We don’t feel like attending the ceremony,” a BJP leader said.
Another BJP leader said, “When Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in at Shivaji Park last month, state BJP leaders, including Leader of Opposition in Assembly Devendra Fadnavis, were present. There is no need to attend every cabinet expansion ceremony.”
Raut’s absence was attributed to his brother Sunil Raut, a Sena MLA, not finding a place in the ministry expansion.
The Shiv Sena kept its senior leaders Ramdas Kadam and Diwakar Raote, who were ministers in the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led government, out of the new council of ministers.
Instead, it included allies Shankarrao Gadakh (of Krantikari Shetkari Paksh) as Cabinet minister, and Rajendra Patil Yedravkar (Independent) and Bachchu Kadu (Prahar Janshakti Party) as ministers of state.
Senior NCP leaders Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, who were ministers in the previous Congress-NCP government, also found place in the ministry.
The two leaders were defeated in the 2014 Assembly polls, but emerged victorious in the state elections held in October this year.
NCP leader and former Assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil, former leader of opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde and former LoP in Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar were also sworn in.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar were among those present at the swearing-in ceremony.
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi ministry led by Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in on November 28.
Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut of Congress, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai of the Shiv Sena and Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP took oath along with Thackeray.
The size of the council of ministers cannot exceed 15% of the total number of MLAs, which is 288 in the state.
As a result, Maharashtra can have a maximum 43 ministers.
The Shiv Sena last month joined hands with the Congress and NCP, its traditional adversaries, after its alliance with the BJP collapsed over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post.
The Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs, NCP 54 and Congress 44 members in the 288-member Assembly. The BJP has 105 MLAs.