In Maharashtra, tug-of-war among Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena over portfolio allocation
After the Cabinet expansion in Maharashtra, the three parties in the government maintain there is no fight; deputy CM Ajit Pawar says allocation will be done on Thursday.
The tug-of-war between the three allies in Maharashtra government — the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Congress — over portfolio allocation continued, even two days after 36 more ministers were sworn-in. While the Congress and NCP leaders maintained there are no issues over portfolio allocation, insiders said they are yet to reach a consensus.
The Congress is now pressing for a portfolio with rural connect – the agriculture department, rural development department or cooperation department. The Shiv Sena has got the agriculture department, while the NCP has the other two departments, which both the parties are unwilling to let go. The three parties had two meetings throughout Wednesday to resolve the issue. Senior Congress leaders and ministers Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan, and Vijay Wadettiwar met chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to discuss portfolios. “A discussion is pending, after which the allocation will be announced. We want two more prominent portfolios for the Congress,” said Thorat.
NCP’s Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil were present at the meeting. “A department with rural touch helps a party establish its base in rural areas. If we don’t have these portfolios, the party will have no say in decisions related to rural Maharashtra,” said a senior Congress leader.
Congress leaders believe they have got the worst deal among the three parties.
Sena insiders said that Thackeray is unlikely to budge from the stance and is keen that Sena cabinet minister Subhash Desai heads the agriculture department. Sena’s Dada Bhuse and Gulabrao Patil, two ministers from rural Maharashtra, too, are eyeing the portfolio.
Aaditya Thackeray, who was inducted into Thackeray’s cabinet, is likely to get the environment department, Sena insiders said. “There are many departments which were kept with the chief minister at the time of portfolio allocation declared on December 12. The Congress can get some from that lot,” said a senior NCP leader.
The NCP plans to give divide rural development and cooperation department between Hasan Mushrif and Balasaheb Patil. However, the party may give up minority affairs department to the Congress to settle the issue, said an NCP insider.
After the four-hour meeting, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said, “We discussed portfolio allocation and also appointment of guardian ministers in the districts. I feel we should not stretch the matter too much [on demanding portfolios]. Everyone has a right to ask for portfolios, but the final decision has to be taken by the chief minister.”
He further added that the portfolio allocation would be done on Thursday morning or by evening.
In the distribution of portfolios among three parties, the Congress has got revenue, energy and non-conventional energy, medical education, school education, animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries, public works (except public enterprise), tribal development, women and child development, textiles, relief and rehabilitation, other backward classes, socially and educationally backward class, VJNT and special backward classes welfare.