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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Ruckus over Ajit remarks, irrigation debate suffers

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, April 09, 2013
First Published: 02:55 IST(9/4/2013) | Last Updated: 02:56 IST(9/4/2013)

The uproar in state Assembly on Monday over deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar's insensitive remarks about drought and power cuts proved beneficial for the government as the Opposition did not grill it about the irrigation scam. Amidst disruptions, budgetary allocations for four departments, including water resources, got approved without discussion or scrutiny.

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During the discussion, legislators are allowed to raise concerns and criticise a department's failing, which the minister has to respond to.

The NCP has led the water resources department for 13 years, with Pawar heading it for a decade. The department's failure to provide adequate irrigation is widely seen as one of the reasons why the drought has affected the state so badly.

"This budget session, there has been little constructive work. The first week was hijacked by legislators attacking a policeman and now this. Budget discussion was reduced from seven to two days and now budgetary allocation for urban development department and water resources will be cleared without debate," said a Congress leader.

BJP MLA Devendra Fadnavis said his party had sought special consideration from the government and the speaker to hold this discussion on Tuesday.

On Monday morning, the Opposition staged protests and demanded Pawar's resignation. Following his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar's public apology, Pawar apologised in the legislature. "I have seen ups and downs in my political career as a leader in ruling as well as Opposition, but this was the most unprecedented blunder I have ever committed. I should have been more responsible on Saturday," Pawar said. "I had no intention of insulting the people of drought-hit areas, but the comment has done its damage. I tender my humble apology to the people of Maharashtra."

The apology is said to have been made after the NCP chief spoke to his nephew.

CM Prithviraj Chavan said that he would make a statement on the issue in Assembly on Tuesday.

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