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Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde’s New Cabinet & Its Three Controversial Ministers

What are the controversies surrounding the new ministers? How has Shinde defended his decision?

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Forty-one days after the new Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government came to power, the Maharashtra state Cabinet on Tuesday, 9 August, saw the induction of 18 new ministers.

However, criticism followed the swearing-in of three of these ministers, including rebel Shiv Sena MLAs Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijaykumar Gavit.

Meanwhile, former Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar claimed the BJP was like a washing machine and that once leaders went there, they came out clean.

On the same lines, a video of BJP leader Kirit Somaiya posted in February last year is being reshared. Somaiya had posted a video on Twitter asking for Rathod’s arrest.

Shinde, however, has defended his newly-appointed Cabinet.

What are the controversies surrounding the new ministers? And what has Shinde said?

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Sanjay Rathod and Death of a Tik-Tok Star

Sanjay Rathod, who also served as the forest minister in the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led state government, resigned last year after his name was allegedly linked to the death of Pooja Chavan, an aspiring model and TikTok star.

Pooja Chavan died after falling from a building on 8 February last year. The BJP had then accused Rathod of having links with the woman after his purported photographs, audio, and video clips with her went viral on social media.

When Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde rebelled against the party leadership in June this year, Rathod joined his camp.

Chief Minister Shinde, however, said that the police had given a clean chit to Rathod, and therefore, he was inducted into the state cabinet.

State BJP vice president Chitra Wagh stated that it was unfortunate that Rathod had been inducted into the cabinet when he was allegedly responsible for a woman's death.

"Even if he is made a cabinet minister, I will continue my fight against him. I have faith in the judiciary. We will fight and win," she said.

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Abdul Sattar and Alleged Rigging of TET

Another newly inducted minister and rebel Sena MLA Sattar was at the centre of a row on Monday when the names of his three daughters and a son appeared in the list of the 7,880 candidates who were disqualified and banned in connection with the alleged rigging of the Teachers' Eligibility Test (TET) 2019-20.

Sattar was previously in the Congress and joined the Shiv Sena before the 2019 Assembly elections.

He joined the Shinde camp in June following the rebellion.

On the TET controversy, Sattar on Monday claimed that it was a political conspiracy and questioned the timing of the list on the eve of the Maharashtra cabinet expansion.
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BJP’s Vijaykumar Gavit and Corruption Charges

Another newly inducted minister, BJP leader Vijaykumar Gavit, was found guilty of corruption in 2017 and irregularities in the tribal development department led by him between 2004 and 2009.

Gavit was in the NCP during 2004-09 and had served as a minister in the then Congress-NCP government.

He later joined the BJP and won the Assembly elections in 2014 and 2019.

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What Has Shinde Said?

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday defended the induction of Shiv Sena MLA Sanjay Rathod into the state cabinet, saying the police had given him a clean chit in the case of the TikTok star's death.

Speaking to reporters after the expansion of his ministry, Shinde also said another round of cabinet expansion would take place soon.

"During the MVA (rule), he (Rathod) was given a clean chit. So, he was included in the cabinet. Police had given him a clean chit. If anyone has anything more to say on it, then that can be heard out," Shinde said.

Shinde also rejected claims that some rebel MLAs, including Sanjay Shirsat, were upset over non-inclusion in the cabinet.

'BJP Is Like a Washing Machine': Former Mumbai Mayor

After the induction of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs Sanjay Rathod and Abdul Sattar, former Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar claimed the BJP was like a washing machine, and that once leaders went there, they came out clean.

Pednekar, who belongs to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction, said, "It's (the BJP) like a washing machine. Once they go there, they come out clean."

Further, the list of the new ministers does not include a woman, a move being slammed by politicians and women's rights activists.

"Maharashtra was the first state in the country to give reservation for women. When 50 per cent of India's population is of women, they are not represented in the state cabinet,” NCP MP Supriya Sule said. “This shows the BJP's mindset," she added.

Here is the full list of the new ministers.

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Topics:  BJP   Maharashtra   Devendra Fadnavis 

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