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Berth pangs: On Maharashtra portfolio allocation

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With its expansion on Monday, the Maharashtra Council of Ministers is now 43 strong: the three key partners of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA), the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress got 15, 16 and 12 berths in the Ministry, respectively. Ajit Pawar, the nephew ( a son of one’s brother or sister, or of one’s brother-in-law or sister-in-law) of NCP chief Sharad Pawar who vaulted ( leap or spring while supporting or propelling oneself with one or both hands or with the help of a pole) to the BJP camp to briefly become the Deputy CM, now holds the same post in the government, almost as if his act of defiance ( open resistance; bold disobedience ; opposition ) of the party leadership did not happen at all.

The sharing of portfolios remains a bone of contention ( heated disagreement )  among partners and within each party. Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray could not meet the deadline he had himself set for announcing the portfolios, which was a day after the expansion. He will be able to arrive at an agreement with leaders of allies ( a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity ) and party colleagues, but that will not necessarily end bad blood and resentment ( bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly )  in the camp.

The MVA is an unlikely alliance as the Sena does not share a common ideological platform with the other two parties. Sena, the oldest ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), turned against the latter ( occurring or situated nearer to the end of something than to the beginning )  not on any question of ideology but on disagreements over power-sharing. The three parties are now bound by a shared rivalry ( competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field ) with the BJP, and they also have a limited shared agenda. The endurance of that agenda and their bonding will be constantly tested and the bickering ( argue about petty and trivial matters ) over portfolio allocation is one such occasion.

Home, Revenue and Finance portfolios lend Ministers considerable sway ( control or influence (a person or course of action) ) and there are always multiple claimants ( a person making a claim, especially in a lawsuit or for a state benefit ; candidate ) for them.The MVA consolidated ( make (something) physically stronger or more solid )  several social and economic interest groups that perceived ( become aware or conscious of (something); come to realize or understand ) a threat from the BJP, and has good reasons to stay together till it gets closer to the next election.

The opportunism ( the taking of opportunities as and when they arise, regardless of planning or principle )  in this alliance apart, the peaceful mobilisation of protesters against the Citizenship Amendment Act in recent weeks without any hostility ( hostile behaviour; unfriendliness or opposition ) from the police was indicative ( serving as a sign or indication of something ) of the significance of the MVA as a bulwark ( a person or thing that acts as a defence ) against the BJP.

Hunger ( have a strong desire or craving for )  for power could be a potent ( having great power, influence, or effect ) adhesive, but also the source of disarray ( throw into a state of disorganization or untidiness )  for the alliance. The birth pangs ( a sudden sharp pain or painful emotion )  of the Thackeray government, which took oath on November 28 and took until December 12 for the first round of portfolio allocation, then until December 31 for the expansion of the council, must act as an alert for all leaders. The populous cohort ( a group of people with a shared characteristic ) of dynasts in the council, which includes the CM and his son, also points to an inherent contradiction of most non-BJP parties.

The Congress has eight, the NCP seven and the Sena has three members including the CM, in the council, who have acquired power as inheritance at least in part. The BJP too had its share of dynasts ( a member of a powerful family, especially a hereditary ruler)  when it was in power. However, in the absence of a strong ideological orientation, dynastic politics becomes more jarring ( have an unpleasant or disturbing effect )  in non-BJP parties even as it remains essential for their sustenance ( the maintaining of someone or something in life or existence).

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