Mumbai Ahead of the monsoon session of the state legislature scheduled on August 17, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ government allocated much-awaited portfolios to their ministers. However, immediately after the portfolio was announced by the CM, Deepak Kesarkar and a few other ministers expressed displeasure over their ministry.
In a surprise move, DCM Devendra Fadnavis has kept all important portfolios including Home, Finance and Planning, Water resources, housing and energy.
while the Shinde camp has been allotted decidedly ‘lesser’ portfolios, there were surprises in the BJP camp as well.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders such as Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil have been humiliated by giving low and secondary portfolios.
Chandrakant Patil, who was in the number two position in the Fadnavis government during 2014 – 19, and held the revenue portfolio, has been given the responsibility of higher and technical education, textile industry and Parliamentary affairs which are considered secondary portfolios.
The Revenue portfolio has instead been given to Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, an “imported” leader from Congress. Vikhe -Patil who was Leader of Opposition in the Lower House of the state legislature during the BJP-Shiv Sena Yuti government during 2014-19, had joined BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. His son Dr Sujay won the Lok Sabha poll as the BJP candidate in 2019. Unfortunately, after the 2019 state assembly polls, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government comprising Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress led by Uddhav Thackeray came into power. Vikhe Patil who was not much active in the BJP organisation and even in legislative works being an opposition party member has been given much importance in the portfolio allocation, much more than Chandrakant Patil, who is supposed to say that close aid of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
If the claims of BJP insiders are to be believed, Shah was not happy with the functioning of Patil during the latter’s tenure as revenue minister as well as state president of the party. “While Chandrakant Dada’s relations with Amit Shah are indeed close, the former failed to strengthen the party in the state. Disclosing party decisions is the major drawback of Dada. That is why union leadership was disappointed with him,” claimed a BJP insider.
The source also claimed that union leaders were also dissatisfied with Patil’s stint as revenue minister. Complaints were registered with union leaders about Patil’s office bearers. “That is why, it was decided Dada will be given the same portfolio again at this time in the Shinde- Fadnavis government,” claimed the source.
The Shinde-Fadnavis government has allocated forest, cultural affairs and fish business portfolios.
Despite CM Eknath Shinde announcing the allocation, the portfolio distribution bears Fadnavis ‘ imprimatur.
There were whispers in the political corridor that Mungantiwar has been asked to handle the Home or revenue ministry. However, it was clear that revenue will be allocated to Vikhe Patil at the time of cabinet expansion when Vikhe-Patil being a senior leader was taken as the first minister at the time of the oath ceremony.
Mungantiwar was the forest minister in the Fadnavis government. His mega drive for a 50 crore tree plantation received massive public support but was under controversy and the erstwhile Thackeray government had ordered a probe into the claims of planting 50 crores trees in the state. However, the MVA government did not find anything wrong in Mungantiwar’s tree plantation claims.
It was expected that Sudhir Mungantiwar will be elevated by giving an energy portfolio, but Fadnavis has kept it with him.
Girish Mahajan, a close confidante of Fadnavis was keen on medical education as he is involved in medical bits of help to the number of patients belonging to his constituency as well as from adjacent districts, Fadnavis has pleased Mahajan by allocating portfolio of his choice. Apart from medical education, Mahajan will also handle rural development and the Panchayat Raj ministry, a key ministry which helps the concerned party to expand its base in rural Maharashtra. One can say, Mahajan has been elevated in the ministry as compared to Dada Patil and Mungantiwar.
The sources in the Shiv Sena claimed that Deepak Kesarkar, the troubleshooter for Eknath Shinde was expected key portfolio like excise, however, he has been given the responsibility of school education and Kesarkar is not happy with this.