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First Muslim lady in cabinet as new Govt. takes shape in Maharashtra

Sunday, November 08, 2009 12:54:06 PM, Agencies

Fauzia Khan: First Muslim lady who will serve as minister in the Maharashtra government

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Mumbai: 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 Maharashtra government.


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 Khan.


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 ministers.


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.











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