Maharashtra’s newly-appointed Chief Minister Ashok Chavan formally began his tenure with the induction of convicted former minister Surupsingh Naik into his 39-member Cabinet. He, however, dropped veteran Congressmen and former ministers Satish Chaturvedi and Baba Siddiqui and NCP’s Anil Deshmukh. Ashok Chavan;s cabinet includes 26 Cabinet ministers, out of which 17 are from the NCP, seven come from the Congress and two are independents. Besides, there are 13 ministers of state. Ashok Chavan, who formed the government after struggling for three days, surprised many by including Surupsingh Naik and Nawab Malik. Both had to quit the Deshmukh government due to serious allegations. Surupsingh Naik, as Minister of Environment and Forest was convicted by the Supreme Court for contempt and sentenced to one month’s imprisonment in May 2006. He had ignored the SC order to close down illegal saw mills in reserve forests in a 1997 case. Another surprise inclusion is that of Madan Patil and Naseem Khan. Madan Patil is a staunch opponent of former deputy chief minister RR Patil, while the latter was dropped last time for nonperformance. The new Cabinet will not have veteran textile minister Satish Chaturvedi, a heavyweight from Nagpur and a known Deshmukh baiter. Baba Siddiqui, a labour minister in the Deshmukh government, is another significant exclusion from the Cabinet. A permanent fixture in the Dutt family, from Sunil Dutt’s days to daughter MP Priya Dutt, Baba topped the list of nonperformers in the Deshmukh Cabinet. Even as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan promises to bring about a change in administration, some of the faces inducted into the new cabinet were mired in controversies. Take a look at some of the controversial names in the cabinet. CHHAGAN BHUJBAL Controversial during his previous stint as deputy chief minister between 1999 and 2004, his name had come up in the multi-crore Telgi fake stamp paper scam. However, the CBI gave him a clean chit. He has now been given back the post of deputy chief minister, as per the promise made to him then by his party chief Sharad Pawar. SURUPSINGH NAIK As the forest minister between 1999 and 2004, he faced one month’s imprisonment for giving improper permission to saw mills. The Supreme Court had sentenced him for simple imprisonment for contempt of court for illegally giving licenses to six plywood industries to operate in a forest area in 2004, despite a ban. SIDDHARAM MHETRE The name of the minister of state for home in the Vilasrao Deshmukh government had allegedly figured in the telephonic conversation between gangster Chhota Rajan with his lieutenant D K Rao. According to a transcript of the conversation, Mhetre had reinstated jail officers who had been suspended after the murder of gangster O P Singh. GANESH NAIK His name had figured in the misappropriation case of Rs 2.38 crore from the Kalwa Belapur Sahakari Bank in Navi Mumbai between 1995 and 1998. Naik was the chairman of the bank at that time. Also, as the environment minister, he had suggested hacking off mangroves and scrapping the Coastal Regulation Zone laws for development. He had even suggested that the best way to pay off the state’s debts was by selling off Mumbai’s open spaces like the Mahalakshmi Race Course, the sprawling green area of Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon and the mangrove-covered Godrej land at Vikhroli. NAWAB MALIK Social worker Anna Hazare had levelled charges against Malik, the then minister of state for housing, in 2003 that he had defied a high court order to stall the development of the Jariwala Chawl at Mahim for reasons best known to him. According to Hazare, Malik wanted a particular builder to develop that land instead of MHADA. VIJAYKUMAR GAVIT Hazare had also charged Gavit, the minister of social welfare in 2004, with misadministration of the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojna and the Indira Awas Yojana for personal and political gains. Instead of helping the elderly, he allegedly gave away grants to party workers in Nandurbar district. So even as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan promises to bring about a change in administration, for the time being the faces inducted into the new cabinet are so mired in controversies that – that’s all the public is talking about.
September 18, 2010
August 30, 2017