NCP gets into combat mode with trust paper

The Nationalist Congress Party is changing the tone of its reaction to the Opposition Shiv Sena and BJP's campaign over the alleged irrigation scam, from defensive to aggressive.

The party has decided to unveil a 'trust paper' on irrigation projects to counter the Shiv Sena and BJP that had brought out a "black paper" to target the NCP after the government white paper indicated there was no wrongdoing.

NCP state chief Madhukar Pichad will make the trust paper public in Nagpur before the winter session concludes. The party said it is aimed at explaining facts and thwarting Opposition designs to hurt the image of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

The party said the Sena and the BJP clinging on to the issue, even after the white paper, shows their intent was to hurt his image as he posed the biggest threat to their chances in the coming elections.

Setting the tone for an aggressive counter-campaign, Home Minister R R Patil said, "We are ready to take the electoral battle with the Opposition to the streets."

The Opposition had been relentless on the issue and had demanded a white paper before the Nagpur session. When the white paper did not work to their advantage, the Sena and the BJP came out with the "black paper." The Opposition has been keeping up the pressure in the winter session.

In an bid to keep the issue alive, the Opposition camp, as well as some Congress leaders, have been mounting pressure on Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for a SIT probe. They were quick to dismiss the NCP paper as a political gimmick.

Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Vinod Tawde said, "It is ridiculous. How can the NCP come out with a separate document? The white paper was prepared by the Congress and NCP government."

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