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Eknath Shinde Cabinet Has Three Ministers With Controversial Pasts: All You Need To Know

Eknath Shinde Cabinet Has Three Ministers With Controversial Pasts: All You Need To Know

Besides inducting ministers with tainted records, the Shinde-BJP combine has also been criticised for not inducting any woman minister.

Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis at the swearing-in ceremony of Cabinet ministers
Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis at the swearing-in ceremony of Cabinet ministers Twitter/Eknath Shinde

The Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government on Tuesday had its first Cabinet expansion in which 18 ministers were sworn in.

For the past 41 days, the Maharashtra government was functioning without a Cabinet as there were only two sworn members — Chief Minister Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. 

However, the Cabinet expansion has not been an entirely relieving exercise for Shinde as he has been facing criticism for inducting three controversial lawmakers. Two of the 18 ministers sworn on Tuesday have corruption trails whereas the third is linked to a death of a woman.  

Moreover, the Cabinet has also been criticised for having no woman at all. 

1. Sanjay Rathod

Sanjay Rathod was a minister in the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led state government as well.

Rathord had to resign last year after he was linked to a woman's death in Pune. While Shinde has defended Rathod by saying that the police has given him a clean chit, the criticism has continued and voices have emerged even from within the coalition partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

Maharashtra BJP Vice President Chitra Wagh said it was unfortunate that Rathod was inducted into the Cabinet when he was allegedly responsible for a woman's death.

She said, "Even if he is made a cabinet minister, I will continue my fight against him. I have faith in the judiciary. We will fight and win."

2. Abdul Sattar

Abdul Sattar was at the centre of a row on Monday when the names of his three daughters and a son appeared in the list of the 7,880 candidates who were disqualified and banned in connection with the alleged rigging of the Teachers' Eligibility Test (TET) 2019-20. 

Sattar was previously in the Congress and joined the Shiv Sena before the 2019 Assembly elections. He also joined the Shinde camp in June following the rebellion. 

On the TET controversy, Sattar on Monday alleged it was a political conspiracy and questioned the timing of the list on the eve of the Maharashtra cabinet expansion.

3. Vijaykumar Gavit 

BJP leader Vijaykumar Gavit was five years back found guilty of corruption and irregularities in the tribal development department led by him between 2004-09. 

Gavit was in the NCP during 2004-09 and had served as a minister in the then Congress-NCP government.,He later joined the BJP and won the Assembly elections in 2014 and 2019. 

Shiv Sena calls Shinde-BJP government 'washing machine'

Former Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar claimed the BJP is like a washing machine as once leaders go there, they come out clean.  

The sharp comment was in reference to ministers accused of corruption and yet being inducted into the Cabinet.

"It's (the BJP) like a washing machine. Once they go there, they come out clean," said Pednekar, who belongs to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction.

BJP says women would be inducted in next Cabinet expansion

Besides inducting mininisters with tainted records, the Shinde-BJP combine has also been criticised for not inducting any woman minister.

It's not that there are no women in BJP or Shinde's Sena faction. The BJP has 12 women legislators in Maharashtra, including one from the Legislative Council. The Shinde faction has two women legislators and it also has backing of an Independent woman MLA.

"Maharashtra was the first state in the country to give reservation for women. When 50 per cent of India's population is of women, they are not represented in the state cabinet. This shows the BJP's mindset," said Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule.

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, said that women would be inducted in the next round of Cabinet expansion. The Cabinet currently has 20 members against the maximum sanctioned 43. 

Fadnavis also highlighted that Uddhav Thackeray's first Cabinet had not featured a woman as well. 

He said, "There will be women in the next cabinet expansion for sure. Earlier, people were critical of us for delay in the cabinet expansion, but now they have come up with something new. When Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led government had taken oath (in November 2019), there was not a single woman cabinet minister in it. Nobody had then criticized that government."

(With PTI inputs)

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