Mumbai: Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil would be performing the customary pooja at the iconic Vitthal temple at Pandharpur tomorrow, indicating his formal elevation as number two in the Maharashtra cabinet.
As per the convention, Chief Minister performs pooja at the Vitthal temple during Ashadhi Ekadashi (around June) while the pooja on the 11th day of Kartik month (around November) is performed by the second-ranked cabinet minister.
Who was number two in the BJP-led Devendra Fadnavis government was a mystery until now following the exit of senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who resigned over corruption charges earlier this year.
But an officer of General Administration Department today confirmed that the CM had approved 64-year-old Patil's elevation.
A son of dockyard worker in Mumbai, Patil, whose family hails from Kolhapur in western Maharashtra, started his political career with BJP's student wing ABVP of which he was national general secretary during the first NDA government.
His closeness to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah back then helped him later, when he was asked to strengthen BJP's base in Western Maharashtra, then a Congress bastion.
Along with weighty portfolios of Public Works Department, Co-operation and Textile, he was also guardian minister of Kolhapur and Sangli districts. After Khadse's exit, Patil was handed Revenue, while Cooperation went to Subhash Deshmukh.
Following this, GAD sent a proposal to Fadnavis under a government resolution of 2013 which gives the CM discretionary power to allocate rankings in cabinet, even by deviating from laid-down norms.
A senior officer of GAD confirmed that Fadnavis had approved allocation of number two rank to Patil, and protocol department had been intimated about it. Official order would be out before Saturday.
When asked about the development, Patil said, "My priority has been to serve people and my party. I am really not into ranks and it does not fancy me."