Pawar regains Maharashtra's finance, energy portfolios

Nationalist Congress Party leader and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar took over the state's finance and planning and energy portfolios on Wednesday.

Pawar, nephew of union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, had relinquished charge of these portfolios when he resigned as deputy chief minister over two months ago following allegations that he was involved in a massive irrigation scam.

Pawar returned to the state government, run by a coalition of the Congress and the NCP, in the first week of December after a 'white paper' on irrigation projects gave him a clean chit.

In a related development, Congress sources indicated that late leader Vilasrao Deshmukh's son Amit may soon be inducted into the state cabinet.

Rural development Minster Jayant Patil had been given charge of the finance department and technical education minister Rajesh Tope was given charge of the energy ministry while Ajit Pawar was out of the cabinet.

On Wednesday, after the state cabinet met, Pawar regained charge of both portfolios.

Ajit Pawar was the water resources minister of Maharashtra for nine years from 1999 to 2008. A state audit alleged that despite spending over Rs68,000 crore, the water resources department could achieve an increase of only 0.1 per cent in irrigated land in the state.