BJP to reward ex-MGP MLA with cabinet berth



Deepak Pauskar, one of the two MGP MLAs, who split and merged the legislative unit of their regional party and joined the BJP in the early hours of Wednesday, is likely to be sworn-in as a cabinet minister.

In his first reaction to the dramatic development Deputy Chief Minister Sudin Dhavalikar indirectly warned the two MLAs that their political future may well be over.

BJP sources said that Dhavalikar, now the lone MGP MLA in the 36-member state Assembly, is likely to be dropped from the cabinet to make way for Pauskar in the 12-member cabinet.

"I have been assured that there will be a swearing-in at the Raj Bhavan on Wednesday afternoon. I will be happy with any ministry of the Chief Minister's choosing," Pauskar told reporters at the Assembly complex.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant also said that the swearing-in of Pauskar would be held on Wednesday.

At 1.45 a.m. on Wednesday, the two MGP MLAs Pauskar and Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar engineered a split in the three-member MGP legislative unit and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Sawant and state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar.

Dhavalikar said: "I am only telling my two MLAs that people have seen what they have done. Beyond this, I do not want to say anything."

The Public Works Department Minister also said that in the past two MGP MLAs -- Ramakant Khalap and Prakash Velip -- had switched over in the 1990s and their political careers virtually ended after that. 

"They could never become MLAs again."

The move takes the legislative strength of the BJP to 14, at par with the Congress which also has 14 legislators.

The merger came on the heels of a growing discomfort between the BJP and the MGP over share of ministerial berths as well as the latter's decision to field its state president Dipak Dhavalikar as a candidate for the upcoming Assembly bypoll in Shiroda against BJP's candidate Subhash Shirodkar.-IANS