The BJP said it is ready to welcome Wadettiwar into the party.
Mumbai: Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday held his first Cabinet meeting after the Cabinet expansion on December 30. According to sources in the Mantralaya, there was an argument between Congress’ Ashok Chavan and NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal over the seating arrangement at the meeting. Mr Bhujbal is reportedly unhappy over being given the food and civil supply portfolio.
A source said that deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, water resources minister Jayant Patil, PWD minister Ashok Chavan and revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat were seated on one side of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, while urban development minister Eknath Shinde, Mr. Bhujbal, Anil Deshmukh and Dr. Nitin Raut were seated on the other side.
“Mr Bhujbal and Mr Chavan reiterated that there has to be some protocol for the seating arrangement,” the source added. Even industries minister Subhash Desai was not sitting as per protocol. Mr Desai was sitting next to Mr Thorat, the source claimed.
According to the protocol, the seating arrangement is as follows: The chief minister, deputy CM, leader of ruling party in Upper House, former CM and former deputy CM.
Moreover, senior Congress minister Vijay Wadettiwar, who like Mr Bhujbal is sulking after not getting a plum portfolio, did not attend the meeting. The Congress leader’s absence grabbed the attention of the BJP, which is ready to welcome him in its fold. BJP leader Chandrashekhar Bawa-nkule said that his party would welcome Mr Wadettiwar if he decides to quit the party.
The absence of the senior Congress leader has exposed that all is not well in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. Mr Wadettiwar is the minister for OBCs, khar land development and relief of rehabilitation (earthquake). Political observers said that Mr Wadettiwar’s absence in the first Cabinet meeting is a sign of his disappointment.
Mr Wadettiwar became the Leader of Opposition in Maharasthra Assembly after Vikhe-Patil switched his loyalty to the BJP. A senior Congress leader and Cabinet minister told The Asian Age, Mr Wadettiwar wanted to be made PWD or energy minister. Now, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat has been given the task of pacifying him.