After a stormy fortnight of hard bargaining between coalition
partners Congress and NCP, Maharashtra’s new ministry finally
administered the oath of office by governor S C Jamir at a simple
ceremony at Raj Bhavan on Saturday evening. The new government
in Maharashtra headed by Ashok Chavan as Chief Minister has Fauzia Khan, a Muslim
lady as minister in the cabinet.
Convent educated Fauzia Khan
considered close to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad
Pawar and an MLC from Parbhani near Aurangabad is the first Muslim
lady in the state who has been inducted as minister in the
In her mid-40s, Fauzia Khan heads the
Federation of All Maharashtra Minority Education Organisation (FAME)
and runs several educational institutions in Parabhani.
As part of the agreement between the
coalition partners, the cabinet has a total of 43
ministers - 23 from Congress and 20
from NCP. While all the 20 ministers belonging to NCP took the oath
on Saturday, Congress left five ministerial berths from its quota
unannounced in view of the possibility of a large number of
disgruntled elements coming to the fore later.
The new government in Maharashtra has
a total of four Muslims as ministers - two each from the coalition
partners. While the Congress has elevated Arif Naseem Khan who was
minister of state for home affairs in the erstwhile government to
the cabinet rank, it inducted Abdus Sattar who won the election from
Sillod as minister of state. Abdus Sattar had taken the oath as
minister for the first time.
Besides Fauzia Khan, the other NCP
minister from the Muslim community is Hasan Mushrif. Hasan Mushrif
MLA from Kagal who took the oath as cabinet minister was part of the
cabinet in the previous government also.
Surprisingly denying the cabinet berth
to heavyweights from Congress and NCP, the new cabinet has a total
of 10 new faces. Among them is Congress party's Varsha Gaekwad, a
Dalit lady who will represent the women in the cabinet with Fauzia
Gaekwad, in her mid-30s, is the
daughter of Congress MP from Mumbai North-Central Eknath Gaekwad.
A total of 22 ministers in the
previous Democratic Front government, from both Congress and NCP
were dropped this time, including 13 of cabinet rank and nine junior
Six cabinet and six ministers of state
from the previous regime were defeated in the assembly elections.
The cabinet rank ministers who lost
are Vijaysinh Mohite Patil and Ramesh Bang (both NCP), Surupsingh
Naik, Anees Ahmed, Ravisheth Patil and Madan Patil (all Congress).
The junior ministers, who bit the dust, include Sunil Deshmukh, who
contested the elections as an independent against Congress nominee
Rajendra Shekhawat, son of President Pratibha Patil.
NCP heavyweight Dilip Valse-Patil was
dropped from the cabinet, but he is expected to become the Speaker.
RR Patil - Deputy Chief Minister and
Home Minister in the previous government who had resigned after the
26/11 Mumbai terror attack is also back in the cabinet. RR Patil was
heading the Home Ministry in the state when Hemant Karkare - former
ATS Chief killed during the 26/11 attack exposed the hitherto hidden
face of the right wing Hindu Terrorism in India.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is likely
to allocate the portfolios of the new ministers by Sunday evening,
preceded by a full first cabinet meeting.