Congress portfolio tussle in Maharashtra
The inordinate delay in distribution of portfolios in Maharashtra has caused acute embarrassment to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray although the problem apparently lies with alliance partner Congress, which has resorted to some tough bargaining.
Sources said Congress ministers were engaged in an internal tussle over choice of portfolios and there were also differences with the Shiv Sena and the NCP over control of districts.
Maharashtra has a unique tradition of guardian ministers for districts to oversee development works, a critical role in political mobilisation for parties.
The Congress wants the agriculture ministry, which has been allocated to the Sena.
The delay has caused much unease among the Sena and the NCP; some of their leaders even wanted their portfolios to be declared. Without distribution of portfolios, the government cannot function normally.
The portfolios of the Sena and the NCP quota have been decided while the Congress ministers are engaged in an ego clash among themselves. While Balasaheb Thorat has been given the important revenue department, Nitin Raut and Ashok Chavan are allegedly in a tussle over the public works ministry.
NCP leader Nawab Malik has said: “The reason for the delay is not due to anything else but because we are considering creating new departments, so it is taking time. Portfolios will be allocated by Monday.”
Congress leaders feel the NCP has cornered strong portfolios. While Anil Deshmukh is expected to get home, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar will most likely get finance.
The Sena has kept urban development, industries and environment for itself.
A fresh controversy erupted on Saturday as Sena leader Abdul Sattar resigned as a minister. Sattar, who had joined the Sena from the Congress just before the Assembly elections, was said to be upset at not being given a cabinet position. Instead, he was made minister of state. The Sena leadership swiftly intervened to control the damage, asking Sattar not to precipitate the matter.
Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the chief minister would speak to Sattar. “Whenever cabinet expansion is taken up, some leaders are left disappointed over not getting the position of their choice. But they should understand that this is a government of the Maha Vikas Agadi and not the Shiv Sena,” he said, adding that Sattar was included in the cabinet “even though he came from outside”.
His resignation is unlikely to be accepted as the government would not like to start on a sour note.