With their relations at an all-time low over the irrigation controversy, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are wary of a face-off at the state cabinet meet scheduled on Wednesday.
Chavan had sparked off a controversy after he expressed concerns over cost escalations in irrigation projects and sought a white paper on irrigation. He had alleged that the state had created water potential of only 0.1 % in the last ten years.
“The CM shouldn’t have directly provoked the NCP with that statement. If he wanted to take on the NCP, some junior minister could have been asked to make a statement from which we could have retracted later,” said a senior Congress minister.
Chavan’s statement was seen as direct challenge to the NCP that has been controlling the water resources department for 13 years. A senior NCP minister said: “One way out could be to avoid creating a scene but give it back when the time is right.”
While chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had a closed-door meeting with industries minister Narayan Rane on the issue, the NCP is expected to decide its strategy at their party’s pre-cabinet meeting early on Wednesday. Rane apparently advised Chavan to hold a meeting with deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar before the cabinet meet, to avoid a direct confrontation later.
The discussion over irrigation is expected at the meet as micro-irrigation projects worth Rs380 crore under the centre’s schemes are on the cabinet’s agenda.