Ajit Pawar was on Monday sworn in as Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister for the second time in two months — this time as part of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition government in the state — as chief minister Uddhav Thackeray finally expanded his Cabinet.
Pawar, who had tried to orchestrate a coup within the NCP by joining hands with the BJP, had taken oath as the deputy of Devendra Fadnavis last month, but the government had only lasted 80 hours, prompting him to return to the Sharad Pawar-led party.
Recently, when NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was asked if Ajit would become deputy CM in the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP combine — known as the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi — he refused to make any clarification.
Ajit, on his part, had denied that he had engineered a revolt. “It was not a revolt. I was the leader of NCP. Did NCP remove me? Did you read (about my removal from NCP) somewhere? I have been telling all that I was in the NCP, I am in NCP and will be in NCP.”
The Uddhav Thackeray-led cabinet has six ministers besides the chief minister.
Former chief minister Ashok Chavan, NCP leaders Dilip Walse Patil and Dhananjay Munde and Congress’ Vijay Wadettiwar also took oath on Monday.
Another key name to be sworn in is Aaditya Thackeray, who became the first from his family to taste electoral success. Aaditya is likely to get the environment or higher education ministry.
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.
The BJP and Sena, which fought the assembly polls in the alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. However, the state witnessed a political crisis after the Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post.
An irate Sena then joined hands with the NCP and Congress to form a government headed by Uddhav Thackeray, who took oath as CM on November 28.
According to the power-sharing formula agreed on by the three parties, the Shiv Sena would have 16 ministers (apart from the chief minister), NCP 14 and the Congress 12.
(With inputs from news18)