The tussle over Maharashtra cabinet expansion and portfolio distribution has reached New Delhi and is likely to be delayed further.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders Ajit Pawar, Praful Patel and Hasan Mushrif reached the national Capital on Wednesday evening to meet Union Home Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Amit Shah over ministerial berths for his MLAs. NCP sources confirmed that the meeting has been fixed.
According to sources, Pawar, who was recently inducted as the deputy Chief Minister (CM), was promised the finance portfolio, and he hasn’t sought any other key portfolio such as home or urban development department (UDD).
The key issue is the redistribution of other portfolios among the CM Eknath Shinde-led Sena faction. The Shinde group was under the impression that the BJP’s portfolios will be given to NCP. But that isn’t the case.
The portfolios from the Shinde group, too, are being looked at for the reshuffle, which has upset the Shinde faction, said sources, adding that 22 MLAs of his MLAs are restless.
Pawar was the finance minister in the CM Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. In 2022, when Shinde and his 40 MLAs parted ways with the Thackeray-led Sena, one of the reasons cited was Pawar did not give them funds easily, while NCP MLAs always got the first preference.
Maharashtra’s cabinet expansion and portfolio distribution was the key topic of discussion in Monday’s late-night meeting between Shinde and his two deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Ajit Pawar, according to sources.
Shinde and Fadnavis have reportedly held multiple meetings with their party legislators, and separately among themselves, over who can be inducted into the cabinet and who will get what.
Sources added that the cabinet expansion has been delayed indefinitely in Maharashtra, and the focus will only be on portfolio allocation.
Meanwhile, CM Shinde will begin his state-wide outreach programme with several ministers on Thursday.