Maharashtra draws blank in reshuffle
Mumbai: The Maharashtra unit of the Congress, with 24 members in parliament, has drawn complete blank in reshuffle of the council of ministers effected by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday.
State MPs had been hopeful that some of them would be chosen to join the central ministries. The state Congress has 17 MPs in the Lok Sabha and seven in the Rajya Sabha.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre put up a brave face in the face of the latest developments even as he sought to downplay the lack of a stronger representation to Maharashtra in the central government.
"These things keep happening given political and other ground realities at the national level. At times, Maharashtra may get more or less, but that does not mean the centre's attention towards this state is any less," Thakre told IANS.
In view of certain recent political developments, he said, states like West Bengal or Karnataka may have got more visible representation.
"However, Maharashtra already has other members in the cabinet with important portfolios. So it should not be construed as ignoring this state," Thakre assured.
In the past couple of days, there was strong speculation of Mumbai getting at least one cabinet rank minister and another two ministers of state or as ministers with independent charge.
Among the contenders from Mumbai were former minister of state for home at the centre and six-time MP Gurudas Kamat as a probable replacement to the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, who passed away in August. The other hopefuls were three-time MP Sanjay Nirupam, Priya Dutt and Eknath Gaikwad.
Before the previous reshuffle in July 2011, Maharashtra Congress had four cabinet rank ministers and two junior ministers from Mumbai.
After the last reshuffle, Kamat had declined to join the ministry and announced that he had quit active politics.
This left only city MP Milind Deora to continue holding the Mumbai flag in the central government, but continuing as a junior minister even after today's reshuffle.
Besides Deora, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and his colleague Praful Patel represent the state in the central cabinet.
Two other central ministers -- Rajeev Shukla and Tariq Anwar from the Congress and NCP respectively -- are Rajya Sabha members from Maharashtra.
Of the total 48 Lok Sabha MPs from Maharashtra, 17 belong to Congress, eight to NCP, nine from BJP, 11 from Shiv Sena and three independents. In the Rajya Sabha, Congress has seven members, NCP six, BJP and Shiv Sena three each, totalling 19.