Friday, Dec 26, 2003
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By Mahesh Vijapurkar
The State NCP president, R.R. Patil, will take charge of the Home Department that had been headed by Mr. Bhujbal while Jayadutt Kshirsagar will be in charge of the Tourism Department. The department of Rural Development, headed by Mr. R. R. Patil, will now be run by Ajit Pawar, the nephew of the NCP chief, Sharad Pawar.
Mr. Mohite Patil, whose family runs a huge network of cooperatives in Solapur district and is hugely influential in western Maharashtra, had contested against Mr. Bhujbal in 1999 but polled less than a quarter of the votes polled by the latter.
It was a difficult choice to make for the NCP president, Sharad Pawar. The person picked had to have the capacity to hold western Maharashtra, an NCP stronghold, together and, at the same time, lead the party in Government. In contrast to Mr. Bhujbal's flamboyance, Mr. Mohite Patil is a man of few words. Mr. Pawar had made "the choice last night itself." But the procedure of having to inform the Chief Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, and forwarding the recommendation to change portfolios held up the announcement.
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