NCP At Advantage As Sharad Pawar's Party May Get Key Maharashtra Ministries

NCP At Advantage As Sharad Pawar

43 ministries in the Maharashtra cabinet will be split between the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena

New Delhi: With sources suggesting the party will get 16 of 43 positions in addition to the Deputy Chief Minister's post, the NCP may get several key ministries in Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's cabinet. Party leader Sharad Pawar, widely seen as the bridge between the ideologically incompatible Shiv Sena and the Congress in the new government and the key ingredient in making that coalition happen, is expected to be given one more ministerial post for his party than the Sena because the Congress had its MLA - Nana Patole - elected to the Assembly Speaker's post this morning.
According to sources the NCP's Jayant Patil, a close aide of Sharad Pawar, is likely to be named Home Minister. Mr Patil briefly served in this position during the Congress-NCP government. He was one of two NCP leaders  the other was Chhagan Bhujbal to be sworn-in alongside Uddhav Thackeray at Mumbai's Shivaji Park on Thursday evening.

The NCP will also get the Deputy Chief Minister's post that is expected to be given to Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar, whose overnight switch to the BJP last week prompted a week of chaos and uncertainty in Maharashtra politics.

Ajit Pawar, who was sworn-in as Deputy Chief Minister in a secretive early morning ceremony, could return to that post he resigned from less than a week ago; his resignation came hours after the Supreme Court ordered the Devendra Fadnavis government to prove its majority in a floor test. Pawar junior's resignation was swiftly followed by that of Mr Fadnavis and the toppling of the BJP-NCP pair.

On Thursday, asked if he would be Deputy Chief Minister again, "There is no decision yet. The party will decide", he said. 

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The Congress, which is expected to get 12 cabinet posts, may get that of Revenue.

Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan, a former Chief Minister and a Maratha leader from the Marathwada region, were the two Congress leaders sworn-in on Thursday. Mr Thorat is an eight-time MLA from Sangamner and earlier this week was also elected as the party's legislature wing leader

The Shiv Sena, which contested October's election with long-term ally the BJP but fell out, spectacularly, over power-sharing talks, is likely to get Urban Development Ministry. Sena leaders Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai were the two party faces sworn-in on Thursday.

Both Mr Shinde and Mr Desai served in the cabinet headed by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis; Mr Shinde was Minister of Public Health and Family Welfare and Mr Desai was Minister of Industries and Mining.

Earlier this morning Mr Fadnavis was then appointed as Leader of the Opposition. Congress MLA Nana Patole was elected unopposed as the new Maharashtra Speaker.

In his short speech, the BJP leader said that although his party had nominated MLA Kisan Kathore to the Speaker's race, it had bowed to requests from other parties to honour a long-standing tradition that the Speaker is elected unopposed and withdrew Mr Kathore's nomination with minutes before the deadline.

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