Swearing in of Maharashtra ministers postponed to Friday

Thursday, November 18, 2010

MUMBAI - The expansion of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s council of ministers has been postponed from Thursday evening to Friday morning as the Congress is yet to shortlist its names, official sources said.

Chavan who left for New Delhi Wednesday evening is still held up there for finalising his new team. He has held meetings with the top party leadership, including party president Sonia Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmed Patel and others in the capital.

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had decided to adhere to the 2009 portfolio sharing arrangement - 23 and 20 berths respectively - paving the way for the swearing-in of the remaining ministers.

The issue was resolved after a marathon meeting between the Congress and NCP leaders held at the residence of ailing union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar Wednesday.

Earlier Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had demanded one extra portfolio, which would have taken the NCP’s share to 21, but this was rejected by the Congress as its share would have been reduced to 22.

This will be the second round of swearing-in after Chavan and Pawar took oath a week ago. Along with them, nine NCP ministers, including heavyweights like Chhagan Bhujbal and R.R. Patil, were sworn in.

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