As resentment has emerged within the Maharashtra Congress over the cabinet expansion and portfolio expansion in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, party MLA Amin Patel in a letter has expressed his dissatisfaction with interim chief Sonia Gandhi. In the letter, Congress MLAs wrote to Sonia Gandhi about the internal politics unfolding in the state.
A senior leader confirmed to Republic that the infighting within the Congress party has led to the delay in the portfolio announcement. On Monday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inducted a total of 36 ministers in his one-month-old coalition government comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress.
Congress VS Congress
The Maharashtra Cabinet expansion has reportedly broken a rift between a faction of Congress over the allocation of portfolios in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, with senior party leaders feeling that the loyalists are being ignored at the time when they deserve an opportunity. Earlier on Wednesday, Maharashtra Minister Balasaheb Thorat disclosed that many MLAs wanted to be included in the Cabinet but there are fewer ministerial berths in the government.
Discontent between the Congress party has also surfaced between Maharashtra cabinet minister Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat with both senior leaders reportedly demanding the Revenue and PWD portfolio. Sources further informed that Nitin Raut and Vijay Wadettiwar have placed their demand before CM Uddhav Thackeray for the PWD portfolio. On Monday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inducted a total of 36 ministers in his one-month-old coalition government comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress. Seniors like Ashok Chavan, Vijay Wadettiwar and Sunil Kedar were among 10 ministers of the Congress who found a place in the new government.
However, the choice of certain leaders is ministers and portfolio allocation seems to have not gone down well with a section of Maharashtra Congress. A senior Maharashtra Congress leader questioned the integrity of MLAs Aslam Sheikh and Vishwajit Kadam on Tuesday who was inducted into the new cabinet, claiming that both the leaders were reportedly keen to jump the ship to the BJP prior to the Assembly polls held in October last year. They are reportedly also met with then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The dominance of leaders from the Maratha caste and "no representation to OBC leaders from the Congress" in the new Cabinet is another reason for resentment, the leader claimed. Along with former CM of Maharashtra and MoS to former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prithviraj Chavan, Sushil Kumar Shinde's daughter Praniti was dropped from the Maharashtra Cabinet. As per sources, the Congress leaders also claimed that Maharashtra Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge presented a biased report to Sonia Gandhi.
Former minister and senior Congress leader Naseem Khan admitted to resentment. "It is true that there is unrest in the party rank and file over the choice of ministers from the Congress quota (in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government). There is a feeling that loyalists have been sidelined. I hope the party's central leadership will take note of the issue," he said.
On Monday, during the cabinet expansion oath ceremony, Ajit Pawar once again took oath as Deputy CM after his three-day stint in November with the short-lived Fadnavis government. Shiv Sena's 13 ministers (10 - cabinet, 3 - MoS), NCP's 13 ministers (10 - cabinet, 3 - MoS) and Congress' 10 ministers (8 - cabinet, 2 - MoS) took oath on Monday at 12 PM in the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha. Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra on November 28 along with six ministers — two each from alliance partners the Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress.