MUMBAI: Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) walked away with the plum ministries of home and finance when Uddhav Thackeray allocated portfolios to his cabinet colleagues on Sunday, a good 38 days after he took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister.
Besides the two crucial portfolios, the NCP – the No 2 in government with 54 seats – got irrigation, housing, excise, social justice, and cooperation & marketing, among others.
The ruling Shiv Sena with 56 seats was allocated urban development, industry, agriculture, PWD (public undertakings) and environment.
The ministries of revenue, PWD (excluding public undertakings), energy, medical education, and salt land development went to Congress, the third partner with 44 seats.
A look at the new cabinet shows that the three parties have tried to strike a fine balance between caste and regional equations.
After the Cabinet expansion, five ministers belong to the open category including two Thackerays, while 17 ministers are Maratha, 12 are OBC, four Muslim, three Dalit, while two are from the tribal community.
The Marthas, who comprise 35% of the state’s population, have grabbed the lion’s share in the Thackeray cabinet. The OBC category has also been given significant representation, followed by Dalit and Muslim.
Western Maharashtra, the bastion of Sharad Pawar, has got better representation.
After western Maharasthra, Sena stronghold Konkan region has got decent representation. However, Vidarbha, north Maharashtra and Marathwada did not get a fair representation in the Uddhav Cabinet. The NCP seems to have tried to compensate this by giving an important portfolio like home to Anil Deshmukh from Vidarbha.
Notably, Sharad Pawar sidelined senior ministers such as Jayant Patil, Chagan Bhujbal, Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil to hand over the home portfolio to Deshmukh. While Ajit Pawar’s close aides Dhananjay Munde, Duttatray Barne, Sanjay Bansod were made ministers, they have been given less important portfolios.
Ideologically committed leaders such as Nawab Malik, Jitendra Awhad, and Jayant Patil were given respectable positions in the Cabinet. The Shiv Sena, which was launched in Mumbai and gained traction in the Konkan region, has got decent representation in the Cabinet.