Rahul Gandhi's strong imprint on Maharashtra Cabinet

While veteran leaders such as Ashok Chavan, Nitin Raut, Sunil Kedar made the cut on account of their seniority, most of the first time ministers – Yashomati Thakur, Varsha Gaikwad, Amit Deshmukh are seen as Rahul acolytes. Photo/PTI

Even as the old guard staged a come back in the Congress posting good results in the recent round of assembly elections, the government formation exercise in Maharashtra had a strong imprint of Rahul Gandhi.

While veteran leaders such as Ashok Chavan, Nitin Raut, Sunil Kedar made the cut on account of their seniority, most of the first time ministers – Yashomati Thakur, Varsha Gaikwad, Amit Deshmukh are seen as Rahul acolytes.

In the power-sharing agreement with the Shiv Sena and NCP, Congress had bagged 12 ministerial berths and the post of the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

Nana Patole, the first Lok Sabha member of the BJP to revolt against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and join the Congress, bagged the coveted post of the Speaker. Patole had made rapid strides within the Congress with his go-getter approach and impressed Rahul, who had appointed him as the Chairman of the All India Kisan Congress.

Maharashtra Congress chief Thorat and Raut, who was the Chairman of the AICC's Scheduled Castes Department, are also considered close to Rahul. Thorat was also a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee an elevation earned after his role in the party's campaign in the Gujarat assembly elections which the BJP managed to win by a whisker.

Despite having stepped down as Congress chief after the Lok Sabha election debacle, Rahul continues to wield considerable influence in all the important decisions of the party. He had also campaigned hard in Jharkhand and also stepped in for Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the Haryana poll campaign in October.

Elections in Haryana, Maharashtra and were helmed by leaders considered members of the old guard in the Congress, where the party posted unexpectedly well.

“Rahul had the final word on the Maharashtra cabinet,” a senior leader involved in the Maharashtra power-sharing negotiations said, triggering speculation over Rahul's return as Congress President soon.

Talks of an organistational reshuffle have begun in the Congress and all eyes were on the young leaders who could get a key role in the party. Recently, young leader Vijay Inder Singla was appointed AICC Secretary attached with AICC Treasurer Ahmed Patel. Singla has been given the charge of all Congress properties and assets spread across the country.

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