Nationalist Congress Party boss Sharad Pawar has repeatedly criticised chief minister Prithviraj Chavan over the past few days, lashing out at the state government and, indirectly, at Chavan, for failing to attract more industries to Maharashtra and for stagnancy in state administration.
Pawar’s party has been in the ruling alliance with the Congress in Maharashtra since 1999. In 12 years, the chief minister has always been from the Congress, but none of the previous three CMs — Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan — was subjected to this kind of criticism by Pawar.
Deshmukh was targeted for appointing a probe panel on the Enron-promoted Dabhol Power Company. (NCP leaders often point out that Pawar had warned long ago that there would be trouble on the power supply front in Maharashtra, and it wasn’t long before he was proved right, with the state now battling a cyclical power crisis). However, this criticism was more about policies and decisions and was not personal.
In Chavan’s case, Pawar has been raising doubts about his style of functioning and his ability to govern. He has gone to the extent of taunting Chavan by saying he does not have enough field experience.
So where is this coming from? Are these comments a reflection of the NCP’s displeasure with the CM’s stand on various issues, including his dissolution of the apex state cooperative bank and now his demand for a white paper on expenditure on irrigation?
Or is it more than that?
Of late, the corridors of Mantralaya have been full of tales of Chavan raising questions about decisions taken by NCP-run departments, about how he forced water resources minister Sunil Tatkare to come up with a factsheet on irrigation projects and how he put on hold the transfers of senior IPS officers, making even home minister RR Patil restless.
One thing is for sure — relations are souring further and there is speculation about whether the NCP will allow Chavan to continue in office till 2014.
A Pune-based contractor and builder who mingles with Congress and NCP honchos has even been telling several politicians that Chavan will be replaced by Deshmukh or Narayan Rane ‘soon’.
Watch this space for more…
Thinking out of the box
At a time when the state government has shown little interest in finding solutions to urban governance issues, Thane municipal commissioner RA Rajeev has mooted the idea of developing a satellite town near that city.
Tentatively named New Thane, this satellite town would be spread over 100 sq km along the Thane creek, between Thane and Bhiwandi, creating a well-planned urban space that could cater to the growing population.
This is exactly the kind of innovative idea that the state needs in order to create planned future cities. One can only hope that Rajeev’s proposed New Thane will get environmental clearance, cross the various legal hurdles facing it and not meet the same fate as dozens of frozen infrastructure projects.