The suspension of nine leaders of Opposition — who created ruckus during the budget speech by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on March 23 — has come in as a handy tool for those keen on creating a rift between Pawar and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
Sources in the Congress-NCP said that some influential leaders in the alliance are hand-in-glove with the Opposition to create differences between Chavan and Pawar. Pawar is being projected as the villain of the episode, while Chavan is being projected as the sympathiser of the suspended MLAs, though he is not in favour of any relief for the troublemakers.
Following the directive that nine Shiv Sena-BJP legislators will be suspended till December 31, the Opposition boycotted the proceedings of the house on Friday. They have threatened to extend their protest till the punitive action is revoked. Some senior members of the Opposition have demanded mercy from the ruling party. The ruling party and the Opposition will meet to resolve the crisis on Monday.
“Rumours that Chavan has complained to NCP boss Sharad Pawar against his nephew Ajit’s stand, that the suspension should not be revoked, are rife. Meanwhile, majority of Congress MLAs, including the CM, want the government to set a deterrent by punishing their errant Opposition colleagues,” said a senior Congress minister.
State Congress general secretary, coordinator of Congress legislature, Sanjay Dutt said, “The Opposition must tender an unconditional apology to 11 crore people of state before seeking withdrawal of suspension.”
Dutt said that the Congress-NCP to had strong reasons to believe that the unruly behaviour of the Opposition was pre-meditated. “No such scenes were witnessed in the history of the state legislature,” he added.
Opposition leader in the Assembly, Eknath Khadse, termed the entire episode as ruling party’s ‘repressive tactics’. State BJP president Sudhir Mungantiwar blamed Ajit Pawar for making it a prestige issue.
A senior Congress leader said that those aspiring for the post of the chief minister in Congress were engineering a situation in which Chavan could help the errant MLAs in getting away with their wrongdoings. “If he does so, his detractors will be free to complain to the high command.”
In the NCP camp, those aspiring for the post of deputy chief minister have accused Ajit of enraging the Opposition for no major reason. “Ajit’s foes are now blaming him for the crisis and are spreading rumours that his uncle would bail him out again.”