With state elections just a few months away, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has started expanding his cabinet. Thirteen new ministers, including ex-Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, were sworn in today.
Seasoned leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who has also represented the opposition in the state assembly, quit the Congress earlier this month to join the ruling BJP. Sources had said he had resigned after he was promised a cabinet berth. His son, Sujay Vikhe Patil, had crossed over to the BJP and won the Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat in the recently concluded elections.
After he was sworn in as a minister today, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil spoke to NDTV and said the mandate won by the BJP in the national elections was a proof that people are happy with the Devendra Fadnavis government. The veteran leader also said he was "ready to take on any responsibility that the chief minister gives him".
"We have seen the mandate in the Lok Sabha Election. People are happy with what the government is doing," he said, and further added that he would now work on the resolving the issues which he raised as the leader of opposition.
"As the representative of the opposition, I raised the issues that were troubling people and the state's policies were often aligned with the demands of opposition," he said.
On agrarian crisis and drought in Maharashtra, Mr Patil said: "Agrarian crisis is severe. Bigger challenge for the state government is to bring in water. Last two years have left the farming community in distress."
In the cabinet rejig, Devendra Fadnavis dropped six ministers including Prakash Mehta who held the housing portfolio. The new ministers are drawn from the BJP (10), Shiv Sena (two) and the RPI-A.