Day after, BJP ministers squabble for plum posts

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 02 November 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: More than 24 hours after Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as chief minister, seven others took oath as cabinet ministers and two as ministers of state, those at the helm of the new government had been unable to allocate portfolios because of intense wrangling over key ministries. No decision had been taken till the time of going to press Saturday night.

READ ALSO: Devendra Fadnavis speaks to TOI: I'm nice but can be ruthless

Sources said the BJP state unit's list, on which there had been no unanimity, was sent to the party's central leadership in New Delhi for approval. BJP chief Amit Shah is likely to resolve the imbroglio on Sunday, sources added.

Hectic consultations between Fadnavis and his senior cabinet colleagues went on till late Saturday evening, sources said, even as key Mantralaya bureaucrats waited for the portfolio list.

With his ministers vying for plum berths, it became difficult for Fadnavis to arrive at a final decision, sources said.

READ ALSO: We will probe every scam, be it Adarsh or irrigation: Devendra Fadnavis

Senior minister Eknath Khadse has been tipped for the crucial revenue or finance portfolio. He is also likely to get the agriculture ministry. Sources said the BJP is finding it difficult to fend off a man who, after the death of Gopinath Munde in June, is regarded as among the party's biggest state leaders and was a strong CM contender.

However, Fadnavis is keen on keeping the finance portfolio himself, given his deep interest in the subject. There are reports that the new CM is considering bringing out a white paper on the debt-ridden state's fiscal imbalance.

Vinod Tawde has been sounded out by the CM for education, tourism and the department of culture, it is learnt. Tawde may also get additional charge of the Marathi department.

Many ministers have set their sights upon the home department. Both Khadse and Tawde were keen on home, but Fadnavis is likely to keep that ministry with himself so that he has his finger on the law and order situation, said political analysts.

Pankaja Munde has been angling for the key energy and public works portfolios, sources said. The energy portfolio was with her father in the Sena-BJP government in the 1990s. It is also a delicate territory, given the recurrent power shortage in the state.

Sudhir Mungantiwar may get the co-operation portfolio which has added significance in Maharashtra's politics because of the Congress-NCP's clout in the co-operative sector, sources said.

READ ALSO: Five calls in five hours: How Shiv Sena threat rattled BJP

Vishnu Savra, the adivasi MLA from Vikramgad and a party veteran, is likely to get the tribal welfare department, which, sources said, has the largest budgetary allocation.

Chandrakant Patil is likely to be given rural development, while Prakash Mehta, also a party veteran, has been tipped for food and civil supplies.

There is a strong view within the BJP that the urban development department should be with the CM until the ministry is expanded.

Another view is that some important berths should be kept aside for the eventuality of Sena joining the government. BJP turned down Sena's demand for the speaker's post recognizing the trouble an "unfriendly" speaker can give a CM who does not have adequate numbers.

READ ALSO: Shiv Sena willing to give up demand for Speaker's post

But there is increasingly a realization in the BJP that the Sena will not settle for "peanuts," sources said.

Fadnavis's declaration in an exclusive interview to TOI that he would investigate the irrigation scam regardless of NCP support and Amit Shah's invitation to Uddhav over the phone for the swearing-in indicate that the BJP leadership is tilting towards letting the Sena in, sources pointed out.

Meanwhile, intense jockeying is on in the BJP for the cozy state-run corporations' chairmanships. Many senior BJP functionaries, including those who lost the recent assembly elections, have started lobbying for corporation captaincy.

The state has a slew of prestigious corporations such as the Maharashtra State Road Corporation, Maharashtra State Finance Corporation, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, CIDCO, Backward Class Commission and State Women's Commission, to name a few.,Devendra Fadnavis,Amit Shah

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