Walking on a tightrope, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray did a balancing act as he undertook his first-ever ministerial expansion on Monday nearly a month after the multi-party Maha Vikas Aghadi government came to power in Maharashtra.
Much on expected lines, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar became the Deputy Chief Minister - for the fourth time. "We would provide a stable government," he said.
Uddhav's son, Aaditya, an MLA from Worli, who became the first from Thackeray family to contest polls, became a Cabinet minister. "I was very happy when the message came to me...it is a challenge, I would do what ever work is given to me," he said.
Former Chief Minister and Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist Ashok Chavan too became a Cabinet minister. His father, late Shankarrao Chavan was also a Maharashtra CM and ex-Union Home Minister.
For the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government and its allies, the ministerial expansion was a major task.
Uddhav was sworn in as Chief Minister on 28 November along with six Cabinet ministers, two each from the three parties.
On Monday, a total of 26 Cabinet ministers and 10 Ministers of State were sworn in.
Late CM and Congressman Vilasrao Deshmukh's son Amit too got a ministerial berth.
The council-of-ministers has three women – Congress’ Varsha Gaikwad and Yashomati Thakur, both Cabinet rank – though the Sena has no woman nominee. NCP’s Aditi Tatkare was sworn in as Minister of State. Varsha is daughter of Mumbai Congress President Eknath Gaikwad while Aditi is daughter of NCP's Raigad MP Sunil Tatkare.
For the first since 2014, the ministry has a staggering four Muslims –NCP’s Nawab Malik and Hasan Mushrif, and Congress’ Aslam Shaikh, all Cabinet rank and Shiv Sena’s Abdul Sattar, who was sworn in as Minister of State.
The new ministers were sworn-in by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at the Vidhan Bhavan complex at Nariman Point. Later, the new ministers left for Mantralaya, the state secretariat.
Ex-Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde of NCP and ex-Leader of Opposition in Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar of Congress too got the Cabinet rank.
Former Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil, a close aide of the Pawar-family, too got a ministerial berth.