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Maharashtra Cabinet expansion: Aaditya Thackeray, Ajit Pawar, 10 Cong MLAs to take oath

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.

SNS | New Delhi |

Thirty-two days after he was sworn-in on November 28, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is all set to expand his council of ministers on Monday.

Since the past two weeks, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders comprising Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have held a series of meetings to finalise the Cabinet expansion plans.

According to reports, Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar and Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray are among those who will take oath as part of Maharashtra’s expanded cabinet today.

Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar, who drew criticism from within the party as well as allies Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra for joining hands with the BJP earlier, is set to be the next Deputy Chief Minister for the second time.

Pawar had held the position for a brief period before as well with Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Minister. The government sustained for 80 hours in the state and fell after the NCP leader failed to prove the support of other party legislators before the Governor.

First-time Shiv Sena MLA from Worli, Aaditya Thackeray has certainly raised eyebrows by attacking former ally BJP in his debut speech in the Maharashtra Assembly saying “Lotus blooms in muddy waters”.

Meanwhile, ten Congress MLAs, including former chief minister Ashok Chavan, will reportedly join the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra council of ministers during its expansion.

From the Congress’ side, Ashok Chavan, KC Padvi, Vijay Wadettiwar, Amit Deshmukh, Sunil Kadar, Yashomati Thakur, Varsha Gaikwad and Aslam Sheikh will take oath as Cabinet ministers, the sources said. Besides, Satej Patil and Vishwajit Kadam of the Congress will be sworn in as ministers of state, party sources told PTI.

The swearing-in will take place at 1 pm in the Vidhan Bhavan (state legislature) premises where a total of 36 ministers are likely to take oath.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray was formed on November 28. The state Cabinet currently has six ministers, besides the Chief Minister.

Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut of the Congress, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai of the Shiv Sena and Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP took oath along with Thackeray on November 28.

Maharashtra can have a maximum of 43 ministers. The size of the council of ministers cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total number of MLAs, which is 288 in the state.

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.

According to the power-sharing formula decided by the three MVA allies, the Sena will get 15 ministerial berths, excluding the CM’s post, the NCP will also get 15 and the Congress 12.

The Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44 in the 288-member House.

(With PTI inputs)