NCP leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister of Maharashtra on Monday during expansion of the Uddhav Thackeray-led council of ministers. Pawar was sworn in to the post for the second time in just over a month.
Earlier, Pawar took oath as deputy CM on November 23 after he rebelled against the NCP and joined hands with the BJP. However, he resigned on November 26, leading to collapse of the three-day Devendra Fadnavis government.
Besides Pawar, former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan also took oath as Cabinet minister in the Thackeray-led government on Monday.
NCP leader and former Assembly speaker Dilip Walse Patil, former leader of opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde and former LoP in Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar were also sworn in.
Governor B S Koshyari administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers in the Vidhan Bhavan (state legislature) complex.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar were among those present at the swearing-in ceremony.
This is for the fourth time that the 60-year-old Ajit Pawar — nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar - has become the Deputy Chief Minister — the first being in November 2010, then October 2012, later in November 2019 for barely 80 hours, and again on Monday.
The only other leader to hold the post more than once is his senior NCP colleague — Chhagan Bhujbal in October 1999 and December 2008.
All others — Nasikrao Tirpude, Sundarrao Solanke, Ramrao Adik, Gopinath Munde, R.R. Patil (all deceased) and Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil — have occupied the post only once.
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray was formed on November 28.
The state Cabinet currently has six ministers, besides the chief minister.
Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut of the Congress, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai of the Shiv Sena and Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP took oath alongwith Thackeray on November 28.
Maharashtra can have a maximum of 43 ministers.
The size of council of ministers cannot exceed 15 per cent of the total number of MLAs, which is 288 in the state.
The Shiv Sena last month joined hands with the Congress and NCP, its traditional adversaries, after its alliance with the BJP collapsed over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post.
As per the power-sharing formula decided by the three MVA allies, the Sena will get 15 ministerial berths, excluding the CM's post, the NCP will also get 15 and the Congress 12.
The Shiv Sena has 56 MLAs, the NCP-54 and the Congress-44 in the 288-member House.
First Published: IST