Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar meet as Cabinet woes continue

The Asian Age.

Metros, Mumbai

Mr Thackeray and Mr Pawar remained busy in the meeting for nearly an hour at the Sahyadri Guest House.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar

Mumbai: Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar Monday evening held discussions pertaining to expansion of the state Cabinet.

Mr Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena, and Mr Pawar remained busy in the meeting for nearly an hour at the Sahyadri Guest House.

The cabinet expansion was expected to take place Monday or Tuesday but the it has been held back as the Congress is yet to decide on its candidates to be included in the state Cabinet.

A NCP leader said, “The Cabinet expansion will be carried out after holding discussions with the Congress.”

Asked about the meeting, Sena leader and home minister Eknath Shinde told the media that the chief minister will soon convey official information about expansion of the Cabinet.

Earlier in the day, Mr Pawar, too, told reporters that the allocation of portfolios was the prerogative of the chief minister.

“We, too, are waiting to see when our colleagues will be invited to take oath,” the NCP chief said.

Responding to a query whether the NCP’s list of Cabinet ministers was ready, Mr Pawar said that his party did not take much time to finalise anything.

“We don't have to go anywhere to seek anybody's permission,” he said in an apparent jibe at ally Congress.

Mr Pawar had Friday said that Cabinet expansion will take place within two to three days after the winter session of the Assembly.

The winter session, which was held in Nagpur, ended Saturday.

A senior Congress leader had said that the ministerial faces will be decided after holding discussions with the party high command in Delhi.

The Sena, NCP and the Congress are the main constituents of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government that came to power in the state on November 28 this year.

On the same day, six ministers from the three parties, apart from Mr Thackeray who was sworn in as the chief minister, took the oath of office and secrecy.

The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had targeted the MVA government ahead of the winter session of the state Legislature over the delay in allocating ministries.

In the recent Assembly election, the BJP along with Sena, its erstwhile ally, had won a comfortable majority in the 288-member Assembly. While the BJP won 105 seats, the Sena settled for just 56 in the Assembly.

However, the dispute over sharing of power, including the chief ministership, led to the two Hindutva allies snapping ties.

Later, the Sena joined hands with the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress (44) and the NCP (56) to form an uneasy alliance to keep the BJP at bay in the key state.