Everybody wants a plum portfolio in the state
With the question of ‘Who will be CM?’ out of the way, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now contending with ‘Which portfolio to allot to whom?’ Aspiring ministers are leaving no stone unturned to lobby for plum posts, but it is the party’s central unit, led by boss Amit Shah, which is taking the final call.
Fadnavis’s cabinet will include Vinod Tawde (left), Eknath Khadse (second from left), Pankaja Munde-Palwe (right) and Sudhir Mungantiwar. While Khadse has demanded the revenue and forest ministries, Munde may be given rural development, and Mungantiwar PWD or home. File pics
Central observers for the state, O P Mathur and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, are exercising the authority of choosing portfolios for MLAs. The party’s state core committee and the two central observers had a prolonged meeting at the Sahyadri state guesthouse in Malabar Hill, over the formation of the state cabinet and preparations for the grand swearing-in ceremony.
Girish Bapat may be given transport or finance departments
Though the newly elected MLAs and most of the leaders of the party were not kept in the loop on the details of the meeting, it is said that the cabinet will have five of the state’s core committee members. Besides CM-designate Devendra Fadnavis, other members are Eknath Khadse (Muktainagar), Vinod Tawde (Borivli), Sudhir Mungantiwar (Ballarpur) and Pankaja Munde-Palwe (Parli).
According to sources, other members who are likely to take oath are senior MLAs Girish Bapat (Kasba Peth, Pune) and Girish Mahajan (Jamner). About 8-10 ministers shall be sworn in and the cabinet will be expanded further after a three-day Assembly session starting next week.
The central leadership has cleared names of senior MLAs Prakash Mehta (Ghatkopar East) and Chainsukh Sancheti (Malkapur, Buldana district). Others are Vishnu Savara (Vikramgad), Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar (Bandra West), Suresh Khade (Miraj), Ram Shinde (Karjat Jamkhed) and Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar (Nilanga). It is not known whether they will take oath on Friday.
The issue of allocation of portfolios and nomination to the post of Assembly speaker has also become a tricky issue. Being the senior-most member of the cabinet, Khadse has staked his claim to the revenue and forest departments, but Munde-Palwe, too, wants a plum portfolio.
She could be given rural development, water supply and sanitation, along with the additional charge of women and child development, said party sources. Mungantiwar’s name is under consideration for the home ministry or PWD. If he gets home, Sancheti might be given charge of the PWD, said party leaders.
Initially, Bapat was asked to be at the helm of the Assembly as its speaker, but he has opted for a cabinet berth on the basis of seniority and the party’s focus on growth in Pune and western Maharashtra. He may get transport or finance department. While Vishnu Savara is being considered for tribal welfare, Suresh Khade may possibly be put in charge of social justice.
Gujarat model for state
Imminent CM Devendra Fadnavis will have a strong team of bureaucrats and advisors with him while starting his maiden ministerial innings. Anil Baijal, retired secretary of the Union Home ministry, who is officiating as the advisor to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao during the ongoing Presidents’ Rule, might stay put.
He may be asked to assist the new CM, sources said. In Gujarat, one advisor and three IAS secretaries assist the CM and the same can happen here too, they added. The state under Fadnavis’s leadership is expected to follow the Gujarat model for development.
Possible Cabinet Ministers
Eknath Khadse: Forest and revenue
Sudhir Mungantiwar: Home/PWD
Girish Bapat: Finance/Transport
Pankaja Munde-Palwe: Rural development/Water supply and sanitation
Vishnu Savara: Tribal welfare