Following widespread protests over a law that gives the government arbitrary powers to allocate the state's water resources to industries, denying much-desired irrigation facilities to farmers, the Congress is ready to take on its ally the Nationalist Congress Party to stall the bill in the upper house during the ongoing Budget Session of the state legislature.
The Congress feels that water resources minister Sunil Tatkare, who belongs to the National Congress Party, rushed unnecessarily to get the law passed in the Assembly at midnight of April 13 despite resentment among the alliance partners. The bill will become law only when the Legislative Council approves it in the budget session that ends on April 21.
The new law gives absolute power to a group of ministers headed by irrigation ministers to allocate water resources to industries and it bars anyone from challenging such a decision in a court of law. The Congress wants chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to take charge of the important group.
The Congress has sensed trouble brewing in its ranks, especially in Vidarbha where it is the largest party, and has joined the Opposition in their attempt to stall the bill. In Vidarbha, effigies of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar were burnt as a mark of protest. A delegation led by state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre will meet chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday.
"Our legislators are unhappy with the law as we had decided to refer it to the joint select committee of legislature at the winter session last December. Around 55 proposals that are awaiting water supply clearance are from Vidarbha where farmers need irrigation desperately," said coordinator of the Congress Legislative Party, Sanjay Dutt.