The Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena coalition government came into power a week ago, but it is yet to allocate portfolios. As per initial reports, it seems that the NCP is going to get the bulk of the decisive and key portfolios. According to a UNI report, the Sharad Pawar led party may get Home, Finance, Planning, Power and Forest & Environment portfolios. The NCP is also going to get the Deputy CM post under the power-sharing arrangement with the Shiv Sena.
Uddhav Thackeray might have been feeling that he staged a major turnaround by entering into an unholy coalition with his ideological rivals, but it seems that in reality, Uddhav Thackeray is the biggest loser in this coalition.
He feels that he got what he wanted, that is, Chief Ministership of the state, but it is now increasingly becoming clear what his status is going to be nothing more than that of a de jure Chief Minister. He is going to become a remote control CM, while the real power wrests with Sharad Pawar.
All the portfolios that are likely to be allocated to the NCP are key portfolios, not only due to the power component that they carry but also because they are highly relevant to the current political situation in the state. Home Ministry is going to be a key portfolio as we have already seen how cases against Bhima Koregaon ‘activists’ have been withdrawn, which creates a major safety scare for the state of Maharashtra. The release of urban Naxals is going to make Maharashtra a breeding ground for the radical leftists to thrive in. The NCP is clearly having its way already, while Uddhav Thackeray remains the man on the top who can only watch helplessly.
Finance portfolio also becomes a key ministry in the coalition government, especially when we consider the track record of the NCP. It has come to epitomise corruption in the state over the years and now it has got access to even the Finance portfolio. The Finance portfolio, when combined with the Environment portfolio, becomes a deadly combination. The manner in which Aarey metro car shed project was stalled by the newly sworn-in government and cases against Nanar refinery project agitators were withdrawn, go on to show that the Environment Ministry might be used for stalling ambitious projects initiated by the Devendra Fadnavis government. The NCP will have an option of shifting these projects to locations and corporations of their choice, giving rise to the issue of crony capitalism.
The NCP holds the real power, while Shiv Sena only has the CM chair. What it means that NCP is going to run the government and Uddhav Thackeray is going to be the face of the government. Therefore, a shrewd Sharad Pawar has not only managed to get access to real power, but he has also found a scapegoat in the form of Uddhav Thackeray, who himself is not able to look beyond the CM chair.