BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Jan 5 (IANS) The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi’s ally Nationalist Congress Party on Sunday got a big chunk of the power cake — several important portfolios with the post of Deputy Chief Minister — while Shiv Sena and Congress too bagged key ministries as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray distributed the governance work to his 42-member team.
Besides the post of DCM, the NCP has got 12 cabinet and four ministers of state posts and around a dozen important portfolios with huge budgetary allocations annually.
NCP President Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar is the new Finance Minister entrusted with the crucial job of improving the state’s precarious financial position.
When the new MVA government took over, it was saddled with a legacy of a debt burden of Rs 6.71 lakh crore, comprising Rs.4.71 lakh-crore plus Rs 2 lakh-crore for mega infrastructure projects, from the previous Bharatiya Janata Party regime.
He will also have to make arrangements for the MVA’s ambitious schemes such as the Rs 10 ‘Shiv Thali’, the proposed complete farm loan waiver starting from March, completing the pending irrigation projects and other major money-guzzlers.
For the current fiscal, the government’s estimated revenue expenditure of Rs 3.34 lakh-crore over expected revenue receipts of Rs 3.14 lakh-crore, besides making provisions for around Rs 2 lakh-crore for the mega-infra projects, the tough Ajit Pawar has a formidable task before him.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh will be required to pay attention to the modernization of the state’s police force, tackle the Maoist menace in Vidarbha region, increasing instances of cyber crimes and growing atrocities on women, with his budgetary allocation of around Rs 15,000-crore.
Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil will have to oversee the completion of around 400 big and small irrigation projects in the state with a budgetary allocation of over Rs 12,000 crore for his key department.
Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad will play a key role in the state for the Centre’s pet scheme of housing for all, impetus to affordable housing and other critical schemes for the people.
Former DCM Chhagan Bhujbal is the Minister for Food & Civil Supplies while Hasan Mushrif has got the crucial Rural Development, Rajesh Tope is the Health Minister, Nawab Malik is Labour and Minorities Affairs Minister, two other critical sectors given the growing unemployment and and apprehensions among minorities.
The Congress has reasons to smile for it has insisted on “people-focused” portfolios, bagging the important Revenue Ministry for Balasaheb Thorat, the significant Energy Ministry for Nitin Raut and PWD for Ashok Chavan.
Ex-Leader of Opposition Vijay Wadettiwar is the Minister for OBCs and all other backward communities, a critical constituency in the current political scenario, Varsha Gaikwad is Minister for School Education while Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh is Minister for Medical Education and Culture, and Aslam Sheikh is Minister for Ports, Textiles and Fisheries.
The Shiv Sena is also upbeat with the core Urban Development Department and PWS (public undertakings) Ministry going to Eknath Shinde, Aditya Thackeray getting the sensitive Environment, Tourism Ministries — key for various schemes, including his pet Mumbai Coastal Road Project, and Subhash Desai as Industry Minister at a crucial time confronting the economy.
Dadaji D. Bhuse has got the important Agriculture Ministry where he will play a huge role to redress the agro-crises and farmers’ suicides, Gulabrao Patil is the Water Supply & Sanitation Minister, both important as the hazards of global warming start affecting the country,.
Veteran leader Anil Parab will handle Transport Ministry and is expected to play a key role in navigating the contentious amended Motor Vehicles Act, which was put on hold before elections by his predecessor in the previous regime.
Political circles have largely welcomed the new cabinet and allocation of portfolios as “equitable” and CM Thackeray also nipped in the bud potential rebellion from some ministers over the responsibilities assigned to them.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])