The rift between alliance partners Congress and NCP have grown following chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's public statement over his unhappiness with the home department in the wake of last week’s terror attacks. The relations between the two went further downhill after a tussle at Wednesday's weekly cabinet meeting.
After the July 13 serial blasts in Mumbai, Chavan, who belongs to the Congress, had expressed his misgivings about placing the state home department in the hands of the NCP. “I think it was a mistake. I don’t know of any other coalition government where the portfolios of home, finance and planning are not with the senior coalition partner,” he had said.
The tension between the two could be a cause of worry for the Congress as it has fielded a candidate for the Rajya Sabha bypoll. The party needs NCP’s support to win. The power sharing formula decided between the parties saw the Congress barter away important portfolios like finance, home, water resources and energy in exchange for the CM’s chair.
When the CM rued that no minister had come to his rescue when the opposition slammed the government after the terror attacks, the PWD minister, NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal, targeted Chavan for making “unwarranted remarks”.
According to a senior minister who attended the meeting, Bhujbal told Chavan that ministers did not speak on behalf of the government since after the blasts, Chavan had instructed them not to make any comments. Known for his sarcasm, Bhujbal made the CM even more uncomfortable when he questioned his propriety in discussing the home department.
Going further, Bhujbal questioned the performance of the urban development department headed by the chief minister. Accusing Chavan of running a parallel government, he said the NCP was a part of the Democratic Front government and should be treated with respect.
No Congress minister came to Chavan’s rescue on this occasion either. Chavan did not comment on the fracas but said he has already clarified his stand on his statement on the NCP-held home department.