Buoyed by support from Congress legislators, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has adopted an aggressive stance to tame the Nationalist Congress Party, which has targeted his party and him after being cornered over various scams.
Chavan told party legislators on Thursday that there was no need for them to feel apologetic, because their party was not responsible for the crisis that deputy CM Ajit Pawar's resignation has caused in the NCP camp. The NCP has blamed Chavan for forcing Pawar's resignation by planting corruption charges, and is gunning for the CM's head. The NCP cadre has been protesting against Chavan since Tuesday evening. Some of them even burned the CM's effigies to mark their protest.
But Chavan doesn't want Congress workers to retaliate in any violent manner. On Thursday, he told 90 Congress and associate legislators at his Malabar Hill residence Varsha that they must maintain calm and support the party and the government. "The CM said we should avoid interfering in the NCP's political business and let it resolve its own crisis," a senior party MLA told HT.
State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said, "All of us felt that NCP worker's act of burning the CM's effigy was in a bad taste. But we appealed to our workers to not take the fight to the streets. We need to follow restraint because we want to run the coalition government peacefully," said Thakre, adding that his NCP counterpart has appealed to party workers to stop protesting.
So cautious is Chavan in his approach that he refused to talk to mediapersons despite inviting them for an informal chat after meeting the legislators. "Chavan believes that his discreet actions were far more effective than spoken words," said a legislator, who is a close aide to the CM.
CM waiting for party's orders
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will not accept his deputy's resignation unless the Congress and NCP bosses specifically ask him to do so.
State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said Chavan had not received any official communication from the Congress or the NCP high command to accept Pawar's resignation.
"The CM is awaiting further directives from New Delhi," Thakre told HT on Thursday, a day ahead of NCP's meeting to be headed by its national president Sharad Pawar. The NCP legislators are expected to urge Pawar to reject Ajit's call to quit.
Asked if the Congress was waiting for the NCP to end the crisis by asking Pawar to withdraw his resignation, Thakre said his party was not in a position to comment on the NCP's internal issue. "NCP nominated (Ajit) Pawar as the deputy chief minister and also allotted him departments. Let them decide and communicate their decision to us."
Thakre reiterated the demand for a revised white paper on the irrigation department from the NCP. "The department made presentations on this, but the cabinet wanted it to amend the document. There's nothing wrong in their demand for revision, and it is not proper for them to say that the CM delayed the white paper."