There seems to be no end to the tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and his deputy Chhagan Bhujbal over the Rs 1,300-crore Mantralaya makeover plan.
Four months ago, Chavan had blocked the Bhujbal-led Public Works Department’s proposal to award the contract to a private company. This proposal involved the re-construction of the Mantralaya building, along with a new residential building for ministers and commercial towers on the remaining space for profit.
Both Bhujbal and Chavan’s predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh were keen on the makeover project. But then 26/11 happened and Chavan replaced Deshmukh.
Now the Chavan-led MMRDA wants to build a skyscraper with 100-plus storeys on government land near Mantralaya. This is not only similar to the PWD’s plans but also uncovers a niggling issue: the MMRDA is eyeing the land that belongs to the PWD. Welcome to Round 2 of the Chavan-Bhujbal fight.
Home truths for RR
Home Minister R R Patil may have regained the Home ministry but the consequences of 26/11 continue to hound him.
Be it the decision about making the Pradhan Committee report public, dealing with the allegations leveled by slain police officers Ashok Kamte and Hemant Karkare’s widows or handling the goof-up by former city commissioner Hasan Gafoor, Patil is handed the hot potatoes because Chief Minister Ashok Chavan wants RR to tackle all the 26/11 missiles on his own.
In a closed-door meeting this week, an irked Patil asked why he should single-handedly take the decision of tabling the Pradhan Committee report when he is not running the government alone. To which Chavan retorted that it was because Patil was the first to demand an inquiry into the terror attacks soon after he stepped down as home minister.
We’re told Patil’s close aides are now wondering whether it was a wise move to fight so bitterly to regain the Home department.
J P Dange, the new chief secretary, is keen to keep his boss happy. So when Chief Minister Ashok Chavan wanted the administration to draw up a programme for the government’s first 100 days in office, Dange promptly called for the Congress’ manifesto for the Assembly elections to diligently study the promises made.
However, one doesn’t know yet whether he is showing the same dedication towards the election manifesto of the Congress’ alliance partner NCP.
When saffron turns green
The long-standing alliance between the two saffron partners, the Shiv Sena and the BJP, is on shaky ground once again. This time round, the Sena is unhappy that the BJP is consulting Raj Thackeray’s MNS on issues to be raised in the Assembly.
As the main opposition party in the Assembly, the BJP wants to take the entire opposition along when attacking the government.
But the Sena is playing the jealous partner. And MNS leaders are adding fuel to the fire by being extra sweet to the BJP.
Will someone tell them this can be a dangerous game?