Mumbai: No minister was sacked from the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet in Maharashtra, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar claimed Monday, a day after six members of the ministerial council resigned.
Mungantiwar, a senior BJP leader, said the ministers who stepped down quit on their own and maintained they had "performed well" in their respective areas.
State ministers Prakash Mehta, Rajkumar Badole, VishnuSawra, Dilip Kamble, Praveen Pote and Amrish Atram resigned even as Fadnavis Sunday carried out third expansion of his team by inducting eight Cabinet and five junior ministers ahead of the assembly polls.
Of these, Mehta, who held the housing portfolio, was under attack from the opposition over impropriety in clearing a slum-redevelopment project in the city.
Mehta, a BJP leader, faced a Lokayukta probe in the case and opposition parties were demanding his dismissal from the Cabinet.
There was no question of taking away portfolios of anyone. Some ministers had an additional charge, only that additional charge has been given to the new ministers, Mungantiwar told reporters here.
No one (ministers) was removed from the council. They have resigned. When the issue (of Cabinet expansion) was discussed, some of them expressed the wish to work in the organisation. They had no complaint, he claimed.
The finance minister said that giving opportunities to new faces did not mean the earlier ministers were "non-performers.
On leaders from the opposition like former Congressman Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (inducted as a Cabinet minister) joining the BJP, Mungantiwar said "good people" should come to the ruling party.
When the right person in a wrong party approaches us, we ensure he/she comes to the right party (the BJP). That doesn't mean we will induct all the leaders from the opposition, Mungantiwar said.
The opposition parties, earlier in the day, staged a protest against Vikhe Patil joining the BJP-led government after quitting the Congress.
During their protest outside the Maharashtra legislature complex in South Mumbai, opposition MLAs held placards that read Jai Shri Ram and dubbed Vikhe Patil as Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram (a turncoat).
When asked about it, Mungantiwar said everyone has the right to chant Jai Shri Ram.
The only thing is when we used to chant Jai Shri Ram they would feel pained. Now they have realised that the ideology of nationalism we have been carrying forward is the permanent truth, he said.
On Vikhe Patil being called Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram, Mungantiwar quipped that among those who held placards included legislators who themselves had changed parties in the past.