Why did NCP leader Praful Patel turn down BJP’s offer to make him a Minister of State in Modi’s new Cabinet?

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) declined the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) offer to make party leader Praful Patel a Minister of State (MoS) with independent charge in the new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Despite six ministers from Maharashtra being inducted into the ministry, no NCP leader was included in the council of ministers. The BJP, NCP, and Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena are part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra. Praful Patel, NCP chief Ajit Pawar, and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis commented on the matter following the swearing-in of the new cabinet.

Praful Patel viewed the offer as a demotion since he had previously served as a Cabinet Minister in the Union Government. “Last night, we were informed that our party will get a Minister of State with independent charge. I was earlier a Cabinet Minister in the Union Government, so this will be a demotion for me,” Patel said. NCP chief Ajit Pawar supported this view, emphasizing that it was not appropriate for Patel to accept a lesser position. Ajit Pawar added that the NCP, currently with one Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha MP, expects to increase its representation in the coming months and thus deserves a Cabinet ministry.

Ajit Pawar expressed the party’s willingness to wait for a cabinet ministry rather than accepting the MoS position. He mentioned that the BJP had assured them to wait for a few days for a potential remedy. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis clarified that ministerial positions in the coalition government follow certain criteria, which could not be altered for one party. Fadnavis assured that Praful Patel would be considered for a cabinet position in the future.

Rohit Pawar from the NCP’s Sharad Pawar faction commented that Ajit Pawar’s alliance with the BJP had diminished his influence. He suggested that the BJP’s reluctance to offer a higher post to Ajit Pawar indicated his reduced utility to the party. Rohit Pawar pointed out that Praful Patel, being the most strategic person within Ajit Pawar’s faction, had benefitted the most from the situation.

In response to the cabinet post upheaval, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Eknath Shinde scheduled a meeting with all party MPs and MLAs to discuss the situation. The meetings were planned for Monday evening at Varsha Bungalow, with MLAs meeting at 6 pm and MPs at 7 pm.

The BJP-led NDA secured its third consecutive term in the recent Lok Sabha elections, winning 293 seats, with the BJP itself securing 240 seats. Despite the victory, the NCP’s exclusion from the cabinet and the subsequent dissatisfaction among its leaders highlighted the ongoing complexities and negotiations within the ruling coalition.

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