NCP wants Chavan out but Cong not ready to give in | delhi | Hindustan Times
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NCP wants Chavan out but Cong not ready to give in

The seeds of the ongoing feud between Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar were sown in May last year when the former dissolved the NCP-dominated board of directors of state cooperative banks.

delhi Updated: Sep 27, 2012 00:08 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

The seeds of the ongoing feud between Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar were sown in May last year when the former dissolved the NCP-dominated board of directors of state cooperative banks.

Through these banks, the NCP allegedly gained huge political clout across the state and Chavan's move was seen as a direct challenge to agriculture minister Sharad Pawar's party.

Chavan followed it up by deciding to come out with a white paper on irrigation projects, which were cleared during Ajit Pawar's tenure as water resources minister -- from 1999 to 2009 --- before he was elevated as deputy CM.

His resignation came in the wake of allegations that he had arbitrarily doled out irrigation contracts worth over R20,000 crore when he held the portfolio. A known Sharad Pawar baiter, Chavan further intimidated the NCP by justifying the environment ministry’s conditional clearance to the Lavasa hill station project in Pune.

Political circles in Maharashtra are well aware of the uneasy relationship between Chavan and Sharad Pawar.

Ever since the Congress decided to appoint Chavan as the Maharashtra CM in November 2010, the NCP has been upset with the Congress brass. Political observers had then predicted an intense turf war between the two parties.

Ajit Pawar's resignation is being seen as part of NCP's pressure tactics to force Chavan exit from state’s political scene and not as a step taken to snap ties with the Congress.

However, the Congress has ruled out any leadership change in the immediate future. "No question. There is nothing like this," party spokesman Rashid Alvi said.

The Congress is of the view that replacing Chavan will send a wrong signal given that he has a "clean image" and has acted tough on corruption after assuming the post.