If the seniors in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are joining forces with Ajit Pawar, he should thank chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for the same.
Going by the mood in the NCP, it seems the party - divided between Sharad Pawar loyalists and Ajit supporters - is together in supporting Ajit as he targets Chavan. The reason: Almost all NCP ministers and legislators are irked with Chavan whom they blame for slow functioning of the government. The chief minister's too cautious approach is affecting decision-making in the government and hence it cannot deliver, they say.
Chavan's aides say he is indeed cautious when it comes to clearing files on transfers of government officers, sanctioning additional expenditure or major projects and even clearing various proposals related to the real estate sector. This is necessary because there are scams being unearthed every now and then, they say.
Also, unlike his predecessors who kept senior NCP ministers happy, Chavan has taken on the entire lot.
Which is why, Public Works Minister Chhagan Bhujbal-the man whom Ajit denied a chance to become deputy chief minister for the third time in 2010-was the first minister to reach the latter's residence after he announced his resignation and declared his support. Bhujbal's pet projects including redevelopment of government colony at Bandra are put on hold by Chavan. The CM also refused to inaugurate Maharashtra Sadan, the state's guest house in New Delhi, which was mired in controversies.
Home Minister RR Patil is equally irked with Chavan as the latter takes his own time before signing on the home department's proposals for transfer of senior police officers. Same is the case with other senior NCP ministers who are more loyal to senior Pawar than Ajit. There is uneasiness among the NCP seniors that Ajit (who is not occupied with government duties now) will now try to establish his complete control over the party and dictate terms to them. They are also not sure that extreme steps like pulling out of the government would work. But still, they are eager to see Chavan's returning to Delhi and would back Ajit if he is making it happen.
BJP leader Kirit Somaiya probably can't decide whether to rejoice or be on the defensive. He has been most vocal over the irrigation scam. While he hogged the limelight because of it, the latest development has put him on defensive. The Nitin Gadkari camp within the BJP is furious with him as the party president's name cropped up in the irrigation mess.
Party leaders think it was Somaiya who encouraged activist Anjali Damania at the beginning. Damania has now alleged that Gadkari was not keen on taking up the issue and didn't want Somaiya to make noise over the same. Questions are also being raised over the manner in which irrigation contracts went to a company owned by BJP MP Ajay Sancheti. Party leaders are wondering how to counter these allegations.
Earlier, Somaiya had irked the Thackeray family when he had released list of companies in connection with irrigation scam. Two of the companies had Thackeray family members as directors.