Maharashtra Cabinet gets bigger

Staunch RSS activist Chandrakant Dada Patil, a trusted aide of BJP president Amit Shah, emerged more powerful than ever before on Saturday evening after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis allotted him the crucial revenue portfolio earlier held by controversial BJP leader Eknath Khadse. In addition, Patil has retained the public works and revenue and rehabilitation departments.
In the much-delayed allocation of portfolios, Fadnavis gave a jolt to high-profile cabinet members Vinod Tawde, Pankaja Munde and Prakash Mehta. Tawde lost the prestigious medical education department to Girish Mahajan, Munde lost water conservation to Ram Shinde, while Mehta lost the labour department to Sambhajirao Patil Nilangekar.
Tawde will now be in charge of school education and higher and technical education, while Munde will be in charge of rural development and women and child welfare departments and Mehta will hold the housing portfolio. For Munde, the rejigging comes as a major setback as Fadnavis' flagship programme, the Jalyukta Shivar scheme, which had received praise from the World Bank, has been withdrawn from her. The excise and agriculture departments that were held by Eknath Khadse have been allotted to energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule and senior BJP leader Pandurang Fundkar respectively.
Owing to mounting pressure from most cabinet members for plum posts, the exercise of allocation of portfolios was delayed by more than 24 hours. Most of the cabinet members who were holding four to five departments were reluctant to give some of these up despite having put up a dismal performance.
Fadnavis found a novel way to work his way around cabinet members from whom some key portfolios were taken away. He handed over the list of portfolios to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and quietly left on a five-day tour of Russia.
Fadnavis has retained general administration, urban development, home, law and judiciary, ports and information and public relations, while Sudhir Mungantiwar will continue to hold finance and planning. There is no change in the departments of Girish Bapat (food and civil supplies), Vishnu Savvara (tribal development), Subhas Desai (industries), Diwakar Raote (transport) and Deepak Sawant (public health). Mahajan will hold, along with water resources, the medical education department. Newly-inducted Jaikumar Rawal will hold Employment Guarantee Scheme and tourism, Subhash Deshmukh will be in-charge of cooperation, textiles and marketing, Mahadev Jankar will be in charge of animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries, while Sambhaji Nilangekar has got labour, skill development and welfare of ex-sainiks.
Among ministers of state, most will continue to hold the same departments, except Shiv Sena's Deepak Kesarkar, who along with finance and planning will hold the crucial home department.Shiv Sena leader Gulabrao Patil will be in charge of cooperation, Arjun Khotkar will have textiles, animal husbandry and dairy development, Madan Yerawar will look after energy, tourism, Food and Drug Administration and Public Works Department , Sadabhau Khot will be in charge of agriculture, horticulture and marketing, and Ravindra Chavan will be incharge of ports and medical education.

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