A legal row over the Mula Pravara Electric Cooperative Society in Ahmednagar is now turning out to be a battle between two big political families — the Pawars and the Vikhe-Patils.
State agriculture minister and Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, whose father, Balasaheb, had promoted the cooperative four decades ago, has accused deputy chief minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar of political vendetta against his family.
Ajit, who heads the energy department, has taken a tough stand against Mula Pravara Society because it owes the state power company, Mahavitaran, `2,200 crore.
Mahavitaran has asked the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) to scrap Mula Pravara’s distribution licence and allow it to replace the erring company. Mula Pravara has opposed this and demands to continue as the supplier.
Political observers see this as the next generation extending a long-standing feud between the two families.
Ajit Pawar is the nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who has been Balasaheb’s long-time political rival. Both leaders fought for control over the cooperative sector.
On Friday, Vikhe-Patil, for the first time, used his home turf to publicly challenge Ajit Pawar at the MERC’s public hearing in Shrirampur in Ahmednagar. “This is a political campaign against my family. Ajit Pawar is using the state company to settle political and personal scores with my family. We will retaliate in a similar fashion,” Vikhe-Patil told the commission.
Consumer representatives favoured Mula Pravara as their distributor and urged the MERC to extend the society’s licence because it expires on January 31, 2011.
The society, with 1.45 lakh consumers, needs 275-300 mega watts of power daily from Mahavitaran but does not pay the supplier at regulated rates.
Independent inquiries by the MERC have proved that despite losses, Mula Pravara is a competent service provider.
The MERC has also told Mahavitaran to forego dues because of the society’s poor financial condition.
Ajit Pawar ensured that Mula Pravara did not get any political leverage and prompted Mahavitaran to fight the case in the MERC.
He told the Legislature in December that the government will not buckle under pressure to protect Mula Pravara. He was unavailable for comment on Friday.
Irked by Mahavitaran’s decision to withdraw power supply to Mula Pravara from February 1, Vikhe-Patil asked: “Is this the East India Company? One cannot deny more than one lakh consumers power supply.”
The minister appealed to the MERC to arrange for a compromise formula.