The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government expanded its cabinet yesterday, with the inclusion of 25 ministers and 10 Ministers of State(MoS). The expansion of the cabinet, almost a month after the government formation in the state due to disagreement between the alliance partners has drawn criticism from several quarters for the inclusion of contentious ministers.
One of the newly incorporated legislators in the extended cabinet is Abdul Sattar, who according to Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece, Saamana, had close ties with the gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his underlings. In a scathing article published in Saamana in 1994, it alleged that Sattar, who was then in Congress, was in thick with the Dawood Ibrahim gang, the conspirators of the Mumbai Bomb Blasts 1993.
— Vipin Menon (@vipinrocs) December 30, 2019
However, despite the allegations published in its mouthpiece about 25 years back, Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray not only offered membership of the party to Sattar but he also went ahead to anoint him as a Minister in the newly expanded Maharashtra cabinet.
Besides Sattar, the inclusion of Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh too attracted staunch criticism from the opposition parties as they alleged that Sheikh had been at the vanguard of the campaign demanding clemency for the terrorist Yakub Menon, one of the co-conspirators of the Mumbai Bomb Blasts 1993, and who was awarded death penalty by the highest court of the country.
Shaikh, the Congress MLA from Malad West, had earlier written to the erstwhile President Pranab Mukherjee, seeking mercy for Menon in the serial bomb blast case. Shaikh, along with several current and former legislative office-bearers of the Congress such as Naseem Khan, Amin Patel, Shaikh Asif, Shaikh Rashid, Muzaffar Hussain, Husanabano Khalife, Yusuf Abrahani and Javed Juneja had made this demand to the President.
It is also noteworthy to mention that Shiv Sena party, which is currently in alliance with ideological rivals-NCP and Congress in Maharashtra had then welcomed the capital punishment against Menon.