Congress’ hard bargaining also delayed the Cabinet expansion.
A full-fledged Maharashtra government finally came into being Sunday, but the state’s political impasse isn’t over yet. The state Congress is sulking as it didn’t get any “lucrative” departments, with the Shiv Sena and NCP keeping all the plum portfolios.
It’s hard to believe Congress leaders were unaware of how power will be shared among the three parties. On November 11, when the Congress officially began talks with the Shiv Sena on government formation, Ahmed Patel said any deal would be finalised only after there was clarity on “all points”. Congress’ hard bargaining also delayed the Cabinet expansion.
Mr Thackeray took oath as CM along with six Cabinet ministers — two each from Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP — on November 28. He couldn’t expand his team before his government faced its first Assembly session from December 15 due to differences among the three and had to distribute all departments to six ministers on December 12.
The remaining 36 ministers, including 10 from Congress, took the oath on December 30, but portfolio allocations were delayed by another six days as the Congress and NCP started re-negotiations over the departments. After some more rounds of talks, the NCP got the coveted home portfolio while the Congress got departments like earthquake rehabilitation and cultural affairs.
If the Congress wants to blame someone, it can blame its own leaders who failed to get a more favourable deal from Mr Thackeray. But it must also realise it’s lucky to be in power after its non-existent electoral campaign that secured it just 44 Assembly seats. It will be better for the state and for the Congress to realise this swiftly. It is also the Congress’ responsibility to ensure the Maha Vikas Aghadi government starts working for the people, who aren’t interested in which party got which ministry.