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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Crisis ends, but tension between allies far from over

Shailesh Gaikwad, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, September 29, 2012
First Published: 02:05 IST(29/9/2012) | Last Updated: 02:06 IST(29/9/2012)

Was it lull after the storm or the one before it? That was the question doing the rounds in political circles on Friday evening as NCP chief Sharad Pawar ended the ongoing political drama that began with nephew Ajit’s resignation earlier this week.

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Cornered by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for over a year, Ajit resigned from his post. It put the NCP in a spot as Ajit Pawar’s supporters started piling pressure on the party to pull out of the government and support it from outside, which, in other words, meant political instability.

Himself a veteran of several such political battles, Pawar Senior defused the situation cautiously. One on hand, he pacified his angry nephew and kept his supporters in check, while on the other, he tried to turn the tables on the Congress by demanding a white paper on irrigation. He demanded that the white paper should also include water used for drinking and industries, which is substantial in quantity and would, perhaps, justify the increasing cost.

“Everybody in the NCP, including Pawar, wants Chavan out. They are facing problems over Chavan’s style of functioning. However, if the party makes a noise against him, there are strong chances that the Congress will not remove him from the post,” said a key NCP functionary.

Pawar knows that some sections within the Maharashtra Congress want Chavan out. They are arguing that the Congress has not witnessed any spectacular victory in the elections held under Chavan. If the party leadership gives in to their demand, Chavan could be back in Delhi in the next few months.

If that doesn’t happen, there could be more friction between the allies. Ajit Pawar is likely to start touring the state to strengthen the party ahead of the 2014 elections. He may also target the government (read: chief minister) over its ‘failure’ and Congress is sure to retaliate.

“The tension between the two parties is far from over. The next few months will decide the fate of the Congress-NCP alliance in the state. There will be deep mistrust between the two parties as long as Chavan is the CM. It could lead to further animosity,” said political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar.


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