State Congress leaders have publicly maintained a studied silence on the white paper on irrigation projects, which was presented in state Cabinet on Thursday.
On Thursday night, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said he would comment on the paper only after reading it.
Other Congress leaders in the government, who, like the Chavan, have been doing their best to corner the Nationalist Congress Party through its water resources department, have also held their peace.
Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar had resigned from his post as deputy chief minister after his name came up in several alleged irrigation scams.
Sources in the Congress camp are, however, willing to talk about it in private and said the party is pinning its hope on the high court for taking the corruption allegations to the logical conclusion. “As of now, we have decided not to express any opinion. Let the court decide on the matter,” said a senior minister, on condition of anonymity.
Another Congress minister raised questions about the contents in the white paper. “I understand that the job [of preparing the white paper] was outsourced by the department. I wonder what is correct and what is wrong,” he said, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Every Cabinet meeting in which water resources minister Sunil Tatkare tried to present the draft white paper saw Congress ministers raising awkward questions. Agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who believed Tatkare’s claims on increased irrigation are incorrect, led the charge.
Chavan’s detractors within the Congress feel the NCP has turned the tables on the CM. “It was Chavan who questioned the water resources department earlier this year and demanded a white paper.
It is ironic that the CM had to defend the NCP while presenting the document,” said a minister, on condition of anonymity.