NCP targets Chavan, threatens pullout

FrontAjit Pawar

Mounting an offensive against Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Wednesday threatened to pull out of the government.

At a Cabinet meeting that continued for over two hours, NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said persistent delays in decisions on vital issues were bound to hit the ruling alliance in the coming polls. "If this continues, we are prepared to pull out of the government and offer outside support to the Congress. You (Congress) can then govern the state on your own," said Pawar, criticising delays in granting approvals for electricity, housing, irrigation projects and transfer of officials.

"Ministers and legislators, including those from the Congress, were happy during the tenure of previous chief ministers (late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan) but are not too pleased with the current leadership," he said. On to a proposal to name the Eastern Freeway after Deshmukh, Pawar said, "What is your issue in naming the freeway after him?"

Targeting Chavan, he said, "A person who has not been directly elected won't understand what it takes to face an election. While Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal takes decisions in two days, reports are not submitted in two years here. What sort of governance is this?"

Chavan was left to fend for himself as Congress ministers remained silent. Admitting delays, he said he did not have a problem in granting approvals to projects within the legal framework. "I am willing to review pending matters and bring them before the cabinet. Let the cabinet decide," he said.

The Cabinet then approved cost escalations in 147 irrigation projects worth Rs 623 crore. Later in the evening, Chavan and Pawar summoned ministers and department secretaries individually to review pending approvals. The Cabinet is scheduled to meet again Thursday morning, where several approvals are expected.

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