Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray on Monday expanded Maharashtra Cabinet. Nationalist Congress Party's Ajit Pawar became Deputy CM of Maharashtra and 36 others took oath of their offices. Who's who of Congress, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were present but Uddhav Thackeray's trusted party colleague and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut was conspicuous by his absence at the oath-taking ceremony. Sanjay Raut was instrumental in the battle that saw Shiv Sena break its decades-old alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and forging a new one with NCP and the Congress. He hit national headlines in the immediate aftermath of Maharashtra poll results as he opened a front against the BJP.
But he was absent at the ceremony on Monday.
Though it is not fully clear why Raut skipped such a crucial political event, it is being said that he is miffed with Ajit Pawar being awarded the post of Deputy CM. Ajit Pawar broke party lines and even NCP's understanding with Shiv Sena and Congress to form a government under Devendra Fadnavis on November 23. The government lasted for just 3 days. Ajit Pawar was made deputy CM in that government.
Ajit Pawar has been Deputy CM of Maharashtra twice in the past. However, with his rebellion on November 23, a large section of NCP and Shiv Sena was unhappy. Sanjay Raut faced reporters are had declared before media that Ajit Pawar had backstabbed Maharashtra. Pawar, however, is back on the post nonetheless.
Another reason behind Raut's absence may be induction of Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh into the government. Shaikh was among those MLAs who had written to the President opposing death sentence given to Yakub Menon.
Watch | Aaditya Thackeray takes oath as minister in Maharashtra Government