Chief minister (CM) Prithviraj Chavan’s efforts at an image makeover for the government resulted in a major reshuffle of portfolios, but it failed to address the issue of ‘clean’ ministers.
Some of the 40 ministers — 20 each from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — who took oath on Friday do not carry an impeccable record.
The distribution of portfolios also marked a change in the status for several ministers.
The significant change in the new cabinet is the decision of deputy CM Ajit Pawar to hold the purse strings of the state. He will hold the ministry of finance along with the ministry of energy. He has relinquished his favourite water resources ministry, which has a budget of Rs8,000 crore, to confidant Sunil Tatkare. RR Patil retains the home ministry, while senior minister Jayant Patil continues with the rural development ministry.
In the Congress, senior leader Narayan Rane suffered the biggest setback. He lost the revenue ministry to Balasaheb Thorat. Rane has been given the industries portfolio. Former industries minister Rajendra Darda, who made it to the ministry at the eleventh hour by replacing Hussain Dalwai, will be in charge of school education. Senior minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil will be the new agriculture minister.
“We have tried to retain the social and regional balance in the cabinet. At the same time we have given representation to both experienced and generation next candidates,” said Chavan.
The Congress, which inducted six new faces, elevated junior minister Varsha Gaikwad to cabinet rank. She gets the ministry of women and child development. Sanjay Deotale has been directly inducted as a cabinet rank minister. He will manage the environment and cultural affairs portfolios. The new entrants are: deputy speaker Madhukar Chavan, Satej Patil, Rajendra Mulak, Rajendra Gavit, DP Sawant and Sanjay Deotale.
The surprise candidate is Sawant, who is a close associate of former chief minister Ashok Chavan. Generation next leader Muluk is seen as Prithviraj Chavan’s close associate.
Unlike the Congress which altered both faces and portfolios, the NCP retained all 20 ministers, of which 15 are of the cabinet rank and five are of the minister of state rank. Senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who was divested of the deputy chief minister’s post last week, has been pacified with an additional portfolio of tourism along with the public works department ministry, a charge he held earlier. Despite heavy lobbying, senior Congress minister Patangrao Kadam had to reconcile to the forest ministry.
Of the total 40 ministers only two were women. They are Varsha Gaikwad of the Congress and Faujia Khan of the NCP. Mumbai will be represented by four ministers — Suresh Shetty (public health and family welfare ministry), Naseem Khan (textiles and minorities development), Sachin Ahir (housing) and Varsha Gaikwad (women and child development).
From the last cabinet the Congress ministers who failed to get berths are Subash Jhanak, Abdul Sattar, Ramesh Bagwe and Vijay Wadettiwar.