Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan may miss out on a ministerial berth in the Uddhav Thackeray government for now. While the Congress leadership has okayed the nomination of former chief minister Ashok Chavan to the cabinet, sources said, it has not given a nod to Prithviraj Chavan’s name.
With 12 ministerial berths in the Thackeray-led government, the Congress high command has decided to induct at least two ministers from each region of the state in a bid to strike a regional and caste balance.
In Western Maharashtra, from where Prithviraj Chavan belongs, sugar baron and three-term MLA from Bhor Assembly constituency in Pune district, Sangram Thopte, is being seen as a top contender. Former minister (late) Patangrao Kadam’s son Vishwajeet, meanwhile, is in the race along with former minister Satej Patil for the second slot from the region. Prithviraj, who enjoys a good rapport with Thackeray, has been pushing for Vishwajeet’s case.
In Marathwada, apart from Ashok Chavan, former CM (late) Vilasrao Deshmukh’s son, Amit, is likely to be inducted.
Vidarbha region, which has given the Congress a majority of its 44 MLAs, might get preferential treatment and could end up bagging three ministerial berths, with the names of party’s working president Yashomati Thakur, former minister Vijay Wadettiwar and senior MLA Sunil Kedar seen as frontrunners.
From Mumbai region, former minister Varsha Gaikwad is being seen as a preferred choice, while there is a race between two minority faces — Aslam Shaikh or Amin Patel — for the second slot.
In North Maharashtra, seven-term MLA KC Padvi, who represents Akkalkuwa constituency in Nandurbar, is likely to be inducted. Party’s state president Balasaheb Thorat, already a minister, also belongs to the region. Three young MLAs from established political families — Praniti Shinde, Kunal Patil and Amit Jhanak — are being considered for a junior minister’s slot as well.
The Congress has been allocated 10 cabinet berths and two MoS berths for both the Home and Urban Development departments.
The NCP, meanwhile, has opted for experience with several ministers and star faces expected to be a part of the government. The party, with 54 MLAs, will get 16 ministerial berths.
While Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal have already been sworn in, former ministers Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Jitendra Awhad, Rajendra Shingane and Anil Deshmukh are likely to get cabinet berths.
Names of Dr Kiran Lahamte, a first-time MLA from Akole who had defeated NCP turncoat Vaibhav Pichad, Saroj Ahire, who represents Deolali, and Chiplun MLA Shekhar Nikam, are also being considered. Also in contention is party MP Sunil Tatkare’s daughter, Aditi, a first-time MLA from Shrivardhan.
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