MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday expanded his two-member ministry 40 days after taking oath by inducting 18 ministers, nine each from his rebel Shiv Sena camp and the BJP.
However, there was no woman in the list, a move being criticised by opposition parties.
NCP’s Supriya Sule said that Maharashtra was the first state in the country to give reservation for women, but there is no representation of women in Shinde’s cabinet. “This shows the BJP’s mindset,” she added.
Shinde, however, said that women MLAs would be inducted into the cabinet in the second phase of expansion in September. Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, too, echoed Shinde.
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil was among 18 MLAs sworn in as ministers at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday.
Governor B S Koshyari administered the oath of office to the ministers. On June 30, Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister and Devendra Fadnavis took oath as deputy chief minister.
The BJP tried to keep the regional balance in mind and added some new faces along with experienced ones. On the other hand, Shinde accommodated seven ministers who were part of the previous Uddhav Thackeray government. The induction of Sanjay Rathod, who had to resign from the previous government after his name cropped up in the Tiktok star Pooja Chavan suicide case, created uproar.
After the swearing-in, Shinde said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured him full support.
The strength of the Maharashtra ministry has now gone up to 20, less than half the maximum allowed strength of 43.
Meanwhile, Shinde’s decision to induct nine MLAs out of 51 loyalists left many red-faced. According to sources, Shinde had to struggle till the last moment to strike a balance and announce the names.
“When we moved out of the Uddhav Thackeray government, we were promised ministry. But our names were missing from the list. We hope that our names would be there in the second phase of the expansion. Else, we have to do a rethink,” said a Shiv Sena MLA, who joined Shinde camp in Surat. Rebel Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsat is upset with Shinde.
The new government came with the support of smaller parties and independent MLAs, but they have been ignored, according to Independent MLA Bacchu Kadu. Interestingly, no MLC was inducted as minister on Tuesday.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)