The saffron alliance has fulfilled promises made to Mr Vikhe-Patil and Jaydutt Kshirsagar, former Opposition leaders, during the Lok Sabha election.
Mumbai: Eight ministers and five ministers of state were administered the oath of office and secrecy at a swearing-in ceremony in Raj Bhavan by Maharashtra governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao.
While inducting new ministers into the Cabinet, Mr Fadnavis has maintained caste equations. Of the 13 leaders, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, Ashish Shelar, Dr Tanaji Sawant, Sanjay alias Bala Bhegade belong to the Maratha community; Avinash Mahatekar and Dr Suresh Khade belong to the Dalit community; and one, Yogesh Sagar, belongs to the Gujarati community. Five ministers hail from the other backward classes (OBC) community: Dr Anil Bonde, Dr Sanjay Kute, and Dr Parinay Phuke (the Kunbi community), Atul Save (the Mali community) and Jaydutt Kshirsagar (the Teli community).
The saffron alliance has fulfilled promises made to Mr Vikhe-Patil and Jaydutt Kshirsagar, former Opposition leaders, during the Lok Sabha election. Mr Vikhe-Patil, who was the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly before joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has a stronghold in Ahmednagar district and some parts of north Maharashtra, while Beed district and Marathwada are bastions of Mr Kshirsagar, a former senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, who joined the Shiv Sena in May.
The induction of Mr Sagar, who was sworn in as minister of state, is into the Cabinet is being seen as a move to balance the Gujarati community's representation as the party had reportedly asked housing minister Prakash Mehta to step down.
For the first time, a leader from the Republic Party of India (Athawale), Mr Mahatekar, was inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government as a minister of state. RPI (A) chief and Rajya Sabha member Ramdas Athawale is currently a minister of state in the NDA government at the Centre.
It is to be noted that Mr Vikhe-Patil, Mr Kshirsagar and Mr Mahatekar are presently not members of any House of the state legislature. They can hold ministerial charge for six months. As per the rules, all three will have to get elected in the state legislature within in next six months. But since the state polls are due in September-October, these ministers can stay on till the end of this Assembly's tenure.
Mr Khade, Mr Kute, Mr Bonde and Ashok Uike of the BJP and Tanaji Sawant of the Shiv Sena also took oath as cabinet ministers. Among them, Mr Sawant is the only Cabinet member who is a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) while the others are MLAs. Besides, Mr Sagar, Mr Bhegade, Mr Phuke, Mr Mahatekar and Mr Save were inducted as ministers of state. While Mr Phuke is an MLC, the others are members of the Lower House.
The political significance of the Maharashtra Cabinet expansion is to send a message across the parties about the chief minister and the BJP's strength in the state.