Maharashtra cabinet to be expanded Thursday

Mumbai : The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra will be expanded Thursday, official sources said.

There are at present three vacant berths in the ministry from the Congress quota, including one of cabinet rank and two of ministers of state.

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The NCP has no vacancy barring the replacement of former sacked cabinet minister Vijaykumar Gavit and one minister of state as the term of incumbent Fauzia Khan, a member of the legislative council, is ending shortly.

Though official sources confirmed the expansion, they declined to name the legislators who would be sworn-in as new ministers.

However, in the NCP, the front-runners are state executive president Jitendra Awhad for a cabinet post and Sharad Gavit, a Samajwadi Party legislator, who is also the brother of Gavit, for the post of minister of state for education, health and culture.

In the Congress, some of the names doing the rounds are Amit Deshmukh, son of former chief minister and union minister, the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, and former senior minister Rohidas Patil, among others.

The exercise will come barely four months before the state assembly elections due in October this year.

It follows the Congress-NCP’s worst-ever Lok Sabha election performance in the state since its alliance began in 1999. The two parties only managed to bag two and four seats respectively out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats from the state.