Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, who had resigned as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra over the irrigation scam, was re-inducted into the state Cabinet as he took oath on Friday morning. The BJP and the Shiv Sena have boycotted the swearing-in ceremony.
Governor K Sankaranarayanan administered oath of office to Pawar in the presence of the Maharashtra Chief Minister.
The decision to re-induct Pawar in the cabinet came days after the White Paper on the irrigation scam in the state was tabled. The White Paper on irrigation scam had given a clean chit to the NCP leader.
After the White Paper was tabled, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had said that it gave details of all irrigation projects under the corporations. Chavan had also said that the reasons why there were cost overruns in the projects were also listed out in the White Paper on the irrigation scam, adding that the report showed the difference of opinion in irrigation potential.
According to the Chief Minister, the White Paper, which claims 28 per cent rise in irrigation potential in the last 10 years, on the scam would enable the state government to decide on the future of irrigation in Maharashtra.
Following the resignation of Pawar, an influential NCP leader, all his party ministers in Maharashtra had offered their resignations to NCP chief Sharad Pawar. The NCP chief had, however, said that no one other than Ajit Pawar needed to quit.
Pawar, 53, had resigned after media reports alleged he had arbitrarily awarded irrigation contracts worth over Rs 20,000 crore when he was state's irrigation minister during 1999-2009, before he was elevated as deputy chief minister and handled the plum finance and energy portfolios.
As the Congress-NCP dispensation appeared on a shaky ground following Ajit Pawar's resignation and Sharad Pawar had to fly into Mumbai to bring things under control, the NCP boss had made it clear that the former Deputy CM would continue to be the leader of its Legislature party. The NCP boss's right hand man and cabinet colleague Praful Patel had said the deputy chief minister's post will be kept vacant, indicating he would be back once the white paper "cleared" him.
Meanwhile, Opposition BJP and Shiv Sena on Thursday reacted sharply to the impending re-induction of Pawar and demanded that he face a probe by a Special Investigation Team. "If he has guts he should be ready for SIT probe. If he is proved innocent, then he should come back in the cabinet with respect," Eknath Khadse had said.
With Additional Inputs from PTI