Following a clear indication from the Congress high command that he will not be replaced as chief minister under pressure from the Nationalist Congress Party, Prithviraj Chavan is trying to garner support from his party legislators for his fight against the ally.
Irrigation Scam fallout: Ajit Pawar quits
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) has convened a meeting of its legislators on Thursday, to be chaired by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
"All legislators have been asked to attend the meeting which will be held at 'Varsha', the chief minister's official residence," MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre told reporters.
He said that he requested Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Madhukar Pichad to restrain his partymen from burning posters of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and to stop staging agitations.
Speaking on the current political crisis in the state he said, "The whole matter is about the NCP. We are watching the developments as an audience," he added.
He rubbished reports saying that no complaints have been received to replace Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan with anybody else.
Chavan told senior ministers and legislators on Wednesday that the Congress will wait and watch the NCP’s next move, and it was up to ally to decide on deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s resignation.
“I have not received any formal communication from the NCP on anything except the resignation letters. We are ready to talk if there are any issues,” Chavan told HT. He also said he was in touch with the Congress top brass on the issue.
Sources close to CM said he tried speaking with his deputy on Wednesday, but Pawar refused to take his calls.
“Chavan said he did not stop NCP from publishing a white paper on irrigation department. He wants the party to stop blaming him for delaying the document, and end the street protests against him,” said a senior Congress minister, requesting anonymity.
“The CM’s only concern is that the irrigation potential calculated by the NCP does not match that of the Congress-led revenue and agriculture departments,” he added.
Chavan will meet Congress legislators on Thursday and appeal to them to support him to achieve something his predecessors couldn’t since 1999, i.e. pushing the NCP to the wall and making the ally run for cover from allegations of corruption.
“Despite knowing that his detractors want him out because of his transparent way of functioning, the CM will appeal to them to respond to the high command’s directive and step up their fight against the NCP,” said a Congress general secretary.
“The NCP started the tussle and we expect them to end it. We have decided to not react to their allegations. We have nothing to worry because the NCP has decided against destabilising the government by not accepting resignations of ministers other than Ajit Pawar,” said another minister.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre said the CM was in touch with NCP boss Sharad Pawar and Congress high command. “We will resolve the issue amicably,” he told reporters.
(With HT inputs)