Chavan sworn in as Maharashtra chief minister with 39-strong team

Mumbai, Dec 8 (IANS) Congress leader Ashok Chavan Monday took oath of office as Maharashtra’s chief minister with Chhagan Bhujbal of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as his deputy and 38 ministers.

All the ministers, including two women and six newcomers, were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor S.C. Jamir at a function in Raj Bhavan in the evening.

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Chavan was elected the new leader of the Democratic Front Saturday to succeed Vilasrao Deshmukh, who quit in disgrace following the Mumbai terror attacks. Bhujbal was appointed in place of R.R. Patil, who too quit last week.

Under an arrangement between the Congress and the NCP, Congress has 15 ministers, including seven of cabinet rank and eight ministers of state apart from the chief minister.

The NCP has 23 representatives, including 16 of cabinet rank and seven ministers of state and the deputy chief minister.

The composition of the ministry displays a careful balancing act by Chavan and an attempt to keep all power centres in the party in good humour.

However, by including six new faces, the new chief minister has attempted to affix his own signature on the new government.

For the first time during the tenure of the Democratic Front, a woman, Shobha Bachhav, becomes a Congress minister of state. The NCP already had a woman representative, Vimal Mundada, as cabinet minister.

There are six new faces – Madan Patil, Vijay Wadditewar, Nitin Raut, Naseem Khan, Shobha Bachhav and Surupsingh Naik. The Congress has left four posts vacant.

With the exit of former revenue minister Narayan Rane after his outburst against the Congress and subsequent expulsion, one member of his group – Wadditewar – has been accommodated in the ministry.

The new team also includes Naseem Khan, Congress minister of state who could not make it to the swearing in ceremony as he is away on Haj piligrimage, his secretary told IANS.

Khan shall be administered the oath after he returns next week, the aide added.

Five ministers from the previous government have been dropped – Anil Deshmukh (NCP) and Satish Chaturvedi, Vasant Purkhe, Ranjit Kamble and Baba Siddiqui (all Congress).

On the other hand, the surprise new faces include two Congress leaders – Naik, who had to resign as forest minister in the wake of a month’s imprisonment handed out by the Supreme Court.

Similarly, Nawab Malik had been compelled to resign as labour minister following strictures against him by the Justice P.B. Sawant commission appointed in the wake of an anti-corruption crusade by Anna Hazare.

The portfolios of the new ministers and junior ministers are likely to be announced by Tuesday, a state government official said.

New Maharashtra ministry:

Ashok Chavan – Chief minister
Chhagan Bhujbal – Deputy Chief minister

Congress – Cabinet Ministers:
1) Patangrao Kadam
2) Harshavardhan Patil (Independent legislators’ group representative)
3) Balasaheb Thorat
4) Anees Ahmed
5) Ravisheth Patil
6) Chandrakant Handore
7) Surupsingh Naik

Congress – Ministers of State:
1) Sunil Deshmukh,
2) Madan Patil
3) Nitin Raut
4) Suresh Shetty
5) Siddhram Mhetre
6) Naseem Khan
7) Shobha Bachhav
8) Vijay Wadettiwar

NCP – Cabinet Ministers:
1) Vijaysingh Mohite-Patil
2) Ajit Pawar
3) Jayantrao Patil
4) Ganesh Naik
5) Dilip-Walse Patil
6) Vimaltai Mundada
7) Manohar Naik
8) Vijay Gavit
9) Sunil Tatkare
10) Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar
11) Babbanrao Pachpute
12) Vinay Kore
13) Rajendra Shingne
14) Rajesh Tope
15) Ramesh Bang
16) Nawab Malik

NCP – Ministers of State:

1) Hassan Mushriff
2) Jaiprakesh Dandegaonkar
3) Rana Jagjitsingh Patil
4) Pritamsingh Shegaonkar (RPI-Alliance partner of NCP)
5) Suresh Varpurkar
6) Satish Patil
7) Nana Panchbuddhe