The ruling Congress-NCP government of Maharashtra was on Monday expanded with the induction of two legislators as ministers barely four months before the state assembly elections.
Latur legislator Amit Deshmukh, son of former chief minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh, and Sillod (Jalna) legislator Abdul Sattar Abdul Nabi were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor K. Sankaranarayanan.
This is the second time in less than a week that the state cabinet has been rejigged. Last Thursday, Nationalist Congress Party state executive president Jitendra Awhad was inducted as a state cabinet minister.
Awhad replaced former minister Vijaykumar Gavit, who was sacked before the 2014 Lok Sabha election after his daughter was elected as a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Congress bastion Nandurbar.
CM Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, their cabinet colleagues, legislators and other senior leaders and officials were present on the occasion Monday.
Today's swearing-in was preceded by confusion over a similar exercise slated yesterday for which the Protocol department had issued communication. However, the department issued another communication in the afternoon yesterday, saying the ceremony was being kept on hold.
The chief minister later sought to play down the incident, claiming that no invitations were sent for any oath taking ceremony yesterday.
There was speculation that the Congress had failed to make up its mind on the candidates to be inducted as ministers. This invited potshots from the opposition parties which labeled Chavan as the "most helpless" chief minister of the state. Some even questioned why the swearing-in ceremony could not be completed last Thursday when NCP's Jitender Awhad was inducted.
Chavan, who held talks with party leadership in Delhi on Sunday, returned to Mumbai in the evening and met the Governor on Sunday night paving the way for today's swearing-in ceremony.