18 MLAs in all — 9 from the BJP and 9 from the Shiv Sena group headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde — were sworn in as ministers today in a formal ceremony held in Mumbai. A mutiny by the Sena faction led by Mr. Shinde brought down the Uddhav Thackeray-led administration 40 days prior to this eagerly awaited cabinet expansion.
Before today’s ceremony, Chief Minister Shinde met with MLAs from his side. Forty-five of the Sena MLAs support him.
Following the swearing-in of Mr. Shinde as chief minister and Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP as his deputy in June, the opposition had criticised the delay in extending the cabinet.
Mr. Shinde and the other members of the cabinet met several times before the extension of the cabinet. The chief minister informed the media in Nanded on Monday night that the names of the MLAs who will take the oath of office as ministers will be decided by Monday night or Tuesday.
An important point is that both Shinde and Fadnavis have been leading a two-member government, drawing criticism from opposition figures like NCP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.
According to Fadnavis, the BJP has set out on a quest to increase its presence in Maharashtra for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections by identifying 16 parliamentary districts where opposition parties have enjoyed a string of victories.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had stated on August 6 that secretaries had only been given quasi-judicial authority; no ministerial-level powers had been granted.
The chief minister has been accused by the state’s opposition. BJP MLAs who got cabinet berths include Chandrakant Patil, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Girish Mahajan,
Suresh Khade, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Ravindra Chavhan, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Vijaykumar Gavit and Atul Save.