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Naxalite attacks: RR gets flak

RR Patil, home minister, had a hard time defending himself on Wednesday when his cabinet colleagues attacked him over the naxalite attacks in Gadchiroli.

mumbai Updated: Oct 07, 2010 01:45 IST
HT Correspondent

RR Patil, home minister, had a hard time defending himself on Wednesday when his cabinet colleagues attacked him over the naxalite attacks in Gadchiroli.

Four police officers died in a landmine blast in Gadchiroli on Monday. Eight others suffered injuries when naxalites triggered another blast on Tuesday.

The cabinet criticised Patil for failing to curb with the rising number of naxalite attacks.

A minister who attended the meeting, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media on the cabinet’s internal matters, said Ashok Chavan, chief minister, initiated the discussion. “The CM said police personnel were being killed and we need to stop killings immediately,” the minister said.

The discussion gave Chhagan Bhujbal, deputy CM and Patil’s colleague from the Nationalist Congress Party, a chance to settle scores with Patil. Bhujbal has been upset since Patil recently told people not to pay toll if they find potholes on roads Bhujbal’s Public Works Department maintains.

“When Bhujbal complained after Patil’s comments on his department Sharad Pawar (NCP chief) had to tell Patil to stop meddling with other departments,” the minister said. The two leaders have been at loggerheads ever since Patil replaced Bhujbal as home minister after the fake stamp paper scam was unearthed in 2003.

When a cornered Patil argued that naxalism was a socio-economic problem, his colleagues said it was a law and order problem too, and since he is in charge of the police department, he should concentrate on his job instead of expressing his opinion on other departments. Ajit Pawar, water resources minister and senior NCP leader, also asked Patil to pull up his socks.

Patil recently found himself at the centre of a controversy when a television news channel flashed photographs of him with alleged criminals at an Id gathering at colleague Naseem Siddiqui’s home on September 11.