With the swearing-in of the new Cabinet in Maharashtra on Tuesday, Chandrakant Patil, who was second in command in the previous BJP-led alliance government helmed by Devendra Fadnavis, is currently the only elected legislator from Pune district to make it to the new council of ministers led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. This means that Patil, who is also the state unit chief of the BJP, is likely to be the guardian minister of Pune once again.
A unique practice followed in Maharashtra, guardian ministers are appointed for every district and are meant to bring a minister’s personalised attention to the development of that district. Usually, a minister in the state cabinet hailing from a particular district is made the guardian minister of that district. If a district has no representation in the state cabinet, then an outsider is appointed.
In 2019, Patil was made the guardian minister of Pune for six months after Girish Bapat, who held the charge then, won the Lok Sabha election and ceased to be a state minister. If Patil becomes the guardian minister of Pune again, he is likely to up against the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar in the upcoming civic elections in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in the district.
Until the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray, Ajit Pawar was the guardian minister of Pune. Currently, he is the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and represents Baramati constituency in the district. Thus, in all likelihood, Patil – known to be a strong opponent of the Pawar family – will be posing a direct challenge to Pawar in his bastion of Pune district which is all set to hold elections to the PMC and the PCMC, both of which were dominated by the BJP for the first time in the previous term that lasted from 2017 to 2022.
The MVA government in Maharashtra collapsed a little over a month ago after rebel leader Eknath Shinde walked out of the Shiv Sena along with 40 party MLAs, forcing then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to resign. The BJP, led by Devendra Fadnavis, joined hands with Shinde to form a new government and gave him the post of chief minister though the saffron party had over 100 legislators in the Assembly. Fadnavis took over as the deputy chief minister, but the new state government drew sharp criticism owing to a delay in the formation of the Cabinet. On Tuesday, the Shinde-Fadnavis government expanded the Cabinet by inducting nine ministers each from the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena and the BJP, including Patil.