Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday expanded his two-member Cabinet on Tuesday, inducting 18 new members into his council of ministers. The development comes 41 days after the Chief Minister and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis took oath on June 30. While Shinde was sworn in as the new chief minister of Maharashtra, Fadnavis reluctantly settled for the post of Deputy CM after a nudge from the central BJP leadership.
The 18 new ministers were administered the oath of office at a ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan in south Mumbai at 11 am. Among the 18 new ministers who took oath, nine are from the Bharatiya Janata Party while nine belong to the rebel faction of the Shiv Sena.
CM Shinde earlier met Shiv Sena legislators backing him at the Sahyadri guest house in south Mumbai on Tuesday morning ahead of the Cabinet expansion. Shinde is backed by 40 of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs.
The induction of 18 new ministers into the Maharashtra cabinet takes its tally to 20, less than half the sanctioned strength of 43 ministers.
More ministers will be inducted in the next round of expansion which is likely to be undertaken once the Monsoon Session of the Maharashtra legislative assembly concludes on August 18. The session is set to get underway today.
Shinde, who emerged as a surprise choice over Fadnavis for the CM’s post after successfully leading a rebellion of a large faction of Shiv Sena MLAs with him in June, still has to make a tightrope walk in order to accommodate all of them in the ministry, sources said.
The leaders who took oath as ministers from the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena include Dadaji Bhuse, Shambhuraje Desai, Sandipan Bhumre, Uday Samant, Tanaji Sawant, Abdul Sattar, Deepak Kesarkar, Gulabrao Patil and Sanjay Rathod. Those from the BJP sworn in as ministers are Chandrakant Patil, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Suresh Khade, Girish Mahajan, Ravindra Chavan, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Vijaykumar Gavit, and Atul Save.
The expansion comes after at least seven visits by the CM to New Delhi in the last one month, and with every visit there was talk that the ministry expansion was around the corner.
Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Ajit Pawar said Shinde had promised a ministerial berth to every MLA who joined him.
“Now Shinde is unable to fulfil his promise, hence the delay in cabinet expansion. The chief minister should disclose reasons for the delay,” Pawar said.
(With PTI inputs)