Before the first Cabinet expansion of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra, fresh tension seems to have developed between the post-poll allies Tuesday over portfolio distribution.
According to sources, the Congress, which has got the least number of ministerial berths as per the arrangement between the three parties, is now pushing for the allocation of an additional key portfolio in the rural sector.
In return, the Congress has shown willingness to relinquish claim on a portfolio with lesser budgetary support that had come to it.
As per the negotiations between the parties over government formation, the Shiv Sena will hold the Chief Minister’s post for the full five years. With 56 MLAs, the party will get 14 other ministerial berths in the government, while the NCP, with 54 MLAs, will bag 16 berths and retain the Deputy Chief Minister’s position.
The Congress, with 44 MLAs, has bagged 12 ministerial berths in all and the Assembly Speaker’s post.
With it now becoming clear that the Home portfolio will go to the NCP, and Ajit Pawar, also a favourite for the Deputy Chief Minister’s post, is likely to bag it, the Congress on Tuesday put pressure on allotment of either the cooperatives, rural development or agriculture portfolios.
While the first two had gone to the NCP during earlier negotiations, the Shiv Sena has agriculture.
Besides, not wanting to be seen playing a third fiddle in the government, the Congress leadership has also come under pressure over intense lobbying by party stalwarts over ministerial inductions, said sources.
The party’s new demand, however, has not gone down well with either the NCP or the Shiv Sena, sources said.
While Thackeray government was sworn-in on November 28, differences over portfolio distribution have delayed the Cabinet expansion. Besides Thackeray, six other ministers — two from each party — have been sworn-in so far.
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