The differences between the newly minted alliance of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP in Maharashtra are yet to be ironed out as the state’s cabinet expansion is likely to get delayed due to disagreement over the power-sharing arrangement between the parties. A day after Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray took oath as the chief minister of the state, the tenuous alliance has been plagued with yet another disagreement concerning the post of deputy chief minister.
According to the sources, the state Congress unit came up with a fresh claim at the post of deputy chief minister which was summarily turned down by the NCP. With the two-state parties unable to resolve the impasse, the national leadership of the two parties have been roped in to end the dispute and arrive at a conclusion.
Besides the speaker’s post, the three parties have also failed to strike a consensus over sharing of key portfolios such as finance, home, revenues, corporations and urban development. The rising discord between the alliance partners has resulted in the indefinite postponement of the cabinet expansion, which was earlier scheduled right after the floor test. “Once the disagreements are tackled and a common consensus is reached, cabinet expansion can be expected,” said a leader.
After extended meetings between the alliance partners, NCP leader Praful Patel on November 27 stated that the Assembly Speaker’s post was offered to the Congress party while the deputy CM post was granted to the NCP.
However, on Friday, Congress indicated it was willing to sacrifice the Assembly Speaker’s post for the deputy CM position. According to a Congress leader, the party members are unwilling to play third fiddle in the new government and therefore they are insisting Uddhav Thackeray to appoint two deputy CMs-one each from NCP and the Congress party. “The CM and deputy CM are the face of any government. Most of our MLAs and leaders believe that the party should not give up on the post,” said a senior Congress leader.
Refusing to give in to Congress’ fresh demand, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who remains one of the frontrunners for the post of deputy CM, said that the formula decided on November 27 was final and binding. This is the prime reason for the Maharashtra cabinet expansion delay. “It has been decided and agreed upon by the alliance partners that NCP will get the deputy CM’s position and Congress will get the Assembly Speaker’s post,” he said.