Maharashtra Cabinet expansion may be delayed: Congress demands deputy CM’s post, NCP says no

On Friday, a day after Uddhav was sworn in as the chief minister, a fresh disagreement broke out between the allies over the post of the deputy CM.

WHILE THE Uddhav Thackeray-led alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress coming to power in Maharashtra, the three parties are yet to find consensus on the power-sharing arrangement between them. On Friday, a day after Uddhav was sworn in as the chief minister, a fresh disagreement broke out between the allies over the post of the deputy CM.

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Sources said Congress raised a fresh claim over the deputy CM’s post, but NCP shot it down. With the state leadership of both parties unable to resolve the issue, the national leadership of the two parties are now looking at the matter, said leaders.

Apart from the Speaker’s post, the three parties have also not found consensus regarding some key portfolios, including home, finance, revenue, cooperatives and urban development.

Owing to the disagreements, sources said that the Cabinet expansion of the Thackeray government, which was earlier expected to take place immediately after the floor test in the Assembly on Saturday, has been deferred. “Negotiations will continue. Once consensus is reached between all sides, the expansion of the Cabinet can take place,” said a leader.

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On November 27, following a marathon meeting between the three allies, NCP’s Praful Patel had said that it had been decided that while his party would get the deputy CM’s post for five years, Congress, which had also staked claim on the post, was being offered the Assembly Speaker’s post.

But on Friday, the Congress indicated that it was willing to let go of the Speaker’s post in lieu of the deputy CM’s. Unwilling to play “third fiddle” in the new government, the Congress want Uddhav to appoint two deputies — one from NCP and another from Congress. “The CM and deputy CM are the face of any government. Most of our MLAs and leaders believe that the party should not give up on the post,” said a senior Congress leader.

On Friday, besides hectic parleys between state leaders from both parties, state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat met NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the latter’s residence. But at the time of going to press, no consensus had been reached.

Indicating that NCP was in no mood to give in to Congress’ demand, Pawar’s nephew Ajit, who continues to be in the running for the deputy CM’s post, told mediapersons that the formula decided in the November 27 meeting was final. “It has been decided that Congress will get the Speaker’s post, while the deputy CM would be from NCP,” he said.

On Thursday, NCP had reportedly raised reservations over Congress’ plan to nominate former CM Prithviraj Chavan for the Speaker’s post. Sources said Pawar himself had reminded Congress that during the Congress-NCP regime in 1999, the former had insisted that NCP, which had bagged the Speaker’s post, recommend a panel of three names for the post, which could then be decided by consensus.

The Congress on Friday objected to the suggestion. During deliberations with NCP, it argued that “whom to nominate for the post was the party’s internal matter even as it was willing to hold negotiations”. Besides Chavan, former minister Varsha Gaikwad and senior legislator K C Padvi are being considered for the role, said sources.

With consensus still eluding the parties, it was decided on Friday not to delay the floor test of the new government. Accordingly, Uddhav has convened a special two-day sitting of the state Legislature beginning Saturday.

The government will move the confidence motion on Saturday, without waiting for the appointment of a full-time Speaker. The Speaker’s election is expected to take place on Sunday.

Deora nosedives in Ajit vs Supriya debate

Former Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora on Friday nosedived in the raging debate over NCP president Sharad Pawar’s political heir. Following Pawar’s nephew Ajit’s unsuccessful coup, the debate on whether he or NCP chief’s daughter Supriya Sule — the Baramati MP — should carry his legacy forward has been rekindled. Responding to a tweet in this regard, Deora wrote, “@supriya_sule is the rightful heir to her father’s great legacy. She is effective because she believes that social work & policy change are the paths to political empowerment. I share these values & admire her for staying the course.”

-Express News Service

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