Maharashtra Congress hopes for more ministerial berths

May 18th, 2009 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, May 18 (IANS) Buoyed by an unexpected poll bounty, the Maharashtra unit of the Congress is hoping for half-a-dozen ministerial berths for its MPs in New Delhi, say party leaders.
With the Congress winning 17 of the state’s 48 seats - improving on its 2004 tally of 13 - the view in the party is that the leadership in Delhi might give its MPs six-seven cabinet or junior minister berths.

That the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has got eight seats from the state, one lower than in 2004, has added to the optimism, said a party insider.

While some like former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh want the Congress to fight the assembly elections later this year on its own, others would like a better deal for the state in the cabinet formation, he said.

Among the names doing the rounds are Gurudas Kamat, Priya Dutt and Sanjay Nirupam (Mumbai), Suresh Kalmadi (Pune), Sushilkumar Shinde (Sholapur), Manikrao Gavit (Nandurbar) and Mukul Wasnik (Ramtek).

From the NCP, the two likely faces are Sharad Pawar (Madha) and Praful Patel (Bhandra-Gondia).

State Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil declined to speculate on specific names but Shinde’s name was doing the rounds for Lok Sabha speaker. He added that apart from Kamat, a ministerial berth could also be considered for one of the younger MPs. “But it is too early to say anything now,” Gadgil told IANS.

A factor that could weigh heavily in favour of a city MP is the defeat of former union minister A.R. Antulay from Raigad.

Murli Deora, who handled the petroleum portfolio in the outgoing government, and Prithiviraj Chavan, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), are expected to continue as ministers.

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