A game of political one-upmanship? | india | Hindustan Times
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A game of political one-upmanship?

india Updated: Dec 18, 2012 02:12 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad

The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government has finally announced a probe into the controversy over irrigation projects in the state. One hopes the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to be formed under renowned water expert Dr Madhav Chitale would be able to find out truth into the allegations of wrongdoing and nail the guilty.

Sadly, the whole issue has turned into a political game of oneupmanship, if the behind-the-curtain activities that took place in past 3-4 days are any indication.

As the Opposition did not allow the functioning of the State Legislature during the entire first week of Legislature’s Winter Session at Nagpur, Ajit Pawar camp was convinced that efforts were being made by the Congress, especially Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and even Sharad Pawar loyalist old guards in the NCP, to force a judicial probe into the irrigation controversy.

Ajit camp did not want to face a judicial probe under stringent provisions of the Commission of Inquiries Act since that would have meant political damage to him. There would have been pressure on him for his resignation till the probe was over. Ajit Pawar himself wanted a probe by a technical committee of experts and had even suggested this at the time of publication of White Paper on irrigation. However, it was shot down by Chief Minister Chavan who was in favour of a judicial probe by retired judges.

To counter this, Ajit Pawar camp got finally in touch with the BJP leaders and conveyed to them that their demand for a probe by the SIT was acceptable. An informal meeting was held between a couple of BJP functionaries and Ajit camp at residence of an influential politician in Nagpur on Friday night. Both the camps kept their plan a secret until Ajit himself took the proposal to Chavan and convinced him to accept the same. With the NCP strongly refuting a judicial probe, Chavan had no option but to accept the SIT. While doing so, Ajit has ensured that the probe would come under Water Resources department held by his party colleague Sunil Tatkare. A judicial probe would have come under Chief Minister’s jurisdiction. The cat and mouse game is now on between Chavan and Ajit Pawar. Where will this lead to? Even they are not sure of the same.

Where is Shiv Sena?
While the main opposition party, the BJP, was playing a major role in the irrigation scam probe, there was no sign of Shiv Sena in the State Legislature. The two parties have difference of only one when it comes to strength in the Assembly (BJP has 46 members, Sena has 45) but it is the BJP that is visible as strong opposition. During the ongoing Winter Session, the Sena’s performance is dismal. It has no strategy to attack the government. It’s leaders on the floor of the Assembly seem to be confused. Even a smaller party like Maharashtra Navnirman Sena made its presence felt while Sena seemed clueless.

And it is just a month since Sena Chief’s demise...