Mumbai, July 8: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today expanded his council of ministers by inducting 10 new faces and elevating BJP's Ram Shinde to Cabinet rank, leaving the bickering ally Shiv Sena to settle for two additional Ministers of State.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray skipped the swearing-in ceremony. The exercise, which reflected 45-year-old Fadnavis tightening his hold on the first ever BJP-led regime in the state, raised the strength of the ministry to 41, of which 27 are from the BJP, 12 from Shiv Sena and two from minor partners like Rashtriya Samaj Party and Swabhimani Party.
Six legislators were today sworn-in as Cabinet ministers, including Shinde who was earlier MoS (Home), while two from the Sena took oath as Ministers of State at the ceremony held at Vidhan Bhawan here. Governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers.
Besides Shinde, Pandurang Fundkar, Jaykumar Rawal, Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar and Subhash Deshmukh were inducted as Cabinet ministers BJP's ally Rashtriya Samaj Party's (RSP) Mahadev Jankar too was inducted as a Cabinet minister.
The BJP did not oblige the demand for an additional Cabinet berth from Sena. Sena's Arjun Khotkar and Gulabrao Patil, BJP's Ravindra Chavan, Madan Yerawar and Swabhimani Party's Sadabhau Khot were inducted as MoS. With today's expansion 24 ministers are of Cabinet rank while 17 are Ministers of State.
Among the Cabinet ministers, 18 are from the BJP, 5 from Shiv Sena and one of Rashtriya Samaj Party. Out of the 17 MoS, BJP has 9, Sena-7 and Swabhimani Party-1. The main opposition Congress kept away from the ceremony, saying that the state was not going to benefit from the exercise in any way.
"We were not too keen on participating in the event because there was no quality in the expansion. Maharashtra will not benefit in any way from this expansion. The BJP is only indulging in 'Apna saath apna vikas'. This was a quantitative expansion, not a qualitative one," MPCC president Ashok Chavan told PTI. NCP leader Ajit Pawar said there was no need for his party to boycott the event.
"Sunil Tatkare, Dhananjay Munde were present at the swearing-in ceremony. Jayant Patil was in Sangli for the election of Zilla Parishad president. Dilip Walse Patil was busy in some meeting. But our main party leaders were present," he said.