Politics seems to have drubbed any sincere efforts by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to get relief for the state’s 15 drought-affected districts.
The all-party delegation led by Chavan yielded no quick-fix announcement on relief funds as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose to refer the state’s request for a Rs 2,700-crore relief package to a central committee, as per protocol. This has left the state Congress smarting and given the Opposition the perfect opportunity to slam the Congress-NCP government.
To make matters worse for the Congress, the committee includes Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who has been criticising the state, specifically Chavan, for not doing enough to address the drought issue, which has led to serious water scarcity in at least 6,201 villages.
The state Congress is also on the back foot because it chose to hold an informal meeting with Singh a day earlier, in the presence of the party’s general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
“There was no need to have a meeting earlier and hype it. It seemed like a bid for political upmanship, to take credit for the relief the Centre was expected to give on Tuesday. The move alienated NCP. And after all that, we got zilch from the Prime Minister,” said a senior Congress minister, on condition of anonymity, blaming state party president Manickrao Thakre for the fiasco. Sources said deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was so miffed with the earlier meeting that he skipped the joint press conference in Delhi after the Tuesday meeting.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut said it was shameful that the entire Cabinet led by Chief Minister Chavan could not even get Rs 10 from the Centre. “If Mamata Banerjee had led the delegation, she would have got Rs 2,000 crore in two minutes,” he said.