NCP leader Ajit Pawar Wednesday criticised Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' move of inducting some former Congress-NCP leaders into his cabinet during its expansion, saying loyal Shiv Sena-BJP cadres were ignored during the exercise.
Congress turncoat Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil landed the plum Housing portfolio in the Maharashtra cabinet, which was expanded and reshuffled by Fadnavis on Sunday ahead of the crucial assembly elections. Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who was previously with the NCP and had joined the Shiv Sena last month, was allotted Employment Guarantee and Horticulture ministry.
"I suggested that Shiv Sena leaders should join the NCP and BJP members should go to the Congress and when there is scope of cabinet expansion, they stand a chance of getting ministerial posts," Pawar said sarcastically. He was speaking in the Assembly during a debate on the vote of thanks to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao's address to the joint session of the state legislature made in February this year.
"Thirteen ministers, including some who are not members of either of the two Houses, have been made ministers. These 13 ministers are not likely to get even 13 weeks to perform," he said referring to the code of conduct that will come into force for the assembly polls. Pawar said Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil had, as the Leader of Opposition earlier, levelled serious allegations regarding Rs one lakh crore corruption in Mumbai's development plan (DP) and even accused the Chief Minister's Office of being directly involved in it.
"Vikhe Patil had accused the chief minister of having a deal of Rs 10,000 crore with builders, of which Rs 5,000 crore were delivered," the former deputy chief minister said. "What happened to these allegations? Was he lying then? The chief minister should respond to these allegations since he has now made Vikhe Patil number three in his cabinet," Pawar said.
Taking on Kshirsagar, Pawar said most of the Shiv Sena ministers are members of the Legislative Council. "Senior Sena MLAs were still waiting for a berth in the ministry. But the party made someone, who is not a member of either of the two Houses, a cabinet minister," he said. Both Vikhe Patil and Kshirsagar have resigned as MLAs and joined the BJP and Shiv Sena respectively.
Kshirsagar interrupted saying he was being cornered in the NCP and the Shiv Sena has given him a new chance. He also attributed his ministership to Ajit Pawar. "I give credit to you for my ministerial berth," he said. Pawar also criticised the introduction of new system of teaching Class II mathematics in Marathi by 'Balbharati', the state book publisher, and asked the government to take corrective steps.