Maharashtra Cabinet Expanded, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil Sworn-In

BJP Mumbai president Ashish Shelar and Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Avinash Mahtekar were also among those administered oaths

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Maharashtra Cabinet Expanded, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil Sworn-In

The Maharashtra cabinet expansion comes ahead of Assembly elections scheduled for October


Mumbai: 

The expansion of the Maharashtra cabinet took place today with former Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil among those inducted. BJP Mumbai president Ashish Shelar and Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Avinash Mahtekar were also among those administered oaths.

A total of 13 new ministers were sworn-in during a ceremony held on the day before the start of the last Assembly session of the current government, with the state voting in October. The new ministers are drawn from the BJP (10), Shiv Sena (two) and the RPI-A.

Mr Patil, who quit the Congress earlier this month over ticket allocation for the Lok Sabha election, was previously leader of the opposition in the state Assembly. He declared himself "ready to take on any responsibility that the CM gives".

The cabinet expansion, pitched by finance minister Sudhir Mungatiwar as a move to ensure the happiness of allies before state elections, also comes ahead of a potential battle for the Chief Minister's post between the BJP and its principal ally - the Shiv Sena.

The Sena had indicated last week that it could pitch Aaditya Thackeray as a Chief Minister candidate in the forthcoming election. Aaditya Thackeray is the son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray .

The BJP and the Shiv Sena may have contested the Lok Sabha polls together but fought 2014 Assembly elections in Maharashtra separately; the BJP won 122 of 288 seats to emerge as the single largest party, forcing the Sena into the weaker half of a coalition.

This time around both parties are set to contest 135 seats each, meaning the question of who becomes Chief Minister will likely be raised again.

Sena youth wing chief Aaditya Thackeray may have left the question of his candidacy to the party, but the party's stance sets the stage for a possible tussle to see who succeeds Mr Fadnavis.

Mr Fadnavis met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday night to discuss the expansion, which was approved by BJP chief Amit Shah.

Jaidutta Kshirsagar and Tanaji Sawant of the Shiv Sena and Sanjay Kute, Suresh Khade, Anil Bonde and Ashok Uike of BJP also took oath as cabinet ministers. BJP leaders Yogesh Sagar, Sanjay Bhegade, Parinay Fuke and Atul Saave were sworn-in as ministers of state, as was RPI-A leader Avinash Mahtekar.

Prior to today, the BJP had 16 members in the cabinet with another seven holding minister of state (MoS) charge. The Shiv Sena had five ministers and one MoS. Smaller allies had one minister and one MoS each.

Meanwhile, state housing minister Prakash Mehta and five others resigned their posts. The five who have resigned are Rajkumar Badole, Vishnu Sawra, Dilip Kamble, Praveen Pote and Amrish Atram.



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