The coordination committee meeting meant to settle disputes between the ruling alliance partners — Congress and Nationalist Congress Party — and facilitate smooth running of the Prithiviraj Chavan-led government in the state witnessed heated discussion between the allies. The first such meeting to be held after Chavan took over as the chief minister was held at the state guesthouse, Sahyadri, on Wednesday.
Congress ministers and legislators, especially from Vidarbha, trained their guns at deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar on the water policy. This infuriated the NCP members, who objected to the Congress ministers’ attempt to target Pawar. The Congress leaders had vehemently opposed the water policy, accusing Pawar of diverting water meant for irrigation to industries. Pawar, who is a member of the state coordination committee, said that it was wrong on part of the Congress ministers to blame him or his party as the state cabinet had collectively cleared the decision to allot water resources to industries.
Following protests, Chavan and Pawar had agreed to change the priority of allotment of water. The bill was stalled in the Legislative Council, but later approved in the Assembly with amendments suggested by the Congress, following which agriculture was given top priority over industry. But NCP continued to feel that the Congress was deliberately defaming it for political reasons, which would affect the coalition.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre refused to comment but said the alliance would continue.
NCP state president Madhukar Pichad said: “The bill was drawn up by the law and judiciary department led by the CM, but the Congress opposed the bill as if only NCP ministers were involved in drafting the bill.”