Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar put an end to the ongoing political drama in Maharashtra on Friday by accepting nephew Ajit Pawar’s resignation as deputy chief minister and asking the remaining 19 ministers to get back to work in the Congress-NCP coalition government.
In the face of it, Pawar has pacified his angry nephew and forced the NCP to put up a united front even though there were differences within the party over handling of the situation that arose from the party’s tussle with CM Prithviraj Chavan and the series of allegations, including the irrigation scam. However, the bitterness between the NCP and Chavan is far from over.
After a 90-minute meeting with NCP legislators, Sharad Pawar told mediapersons that his party would ask the state government to bring out the white paper on irrigation at the earliest but this should include not just land under irrigation but water provided for drinking in the highly urbanised state, for industry and for thermal power plants.
“Till these things come before the people, Ajit Pawar will not be in the government," he said, indicating that once a white paper is released, his nephew could return to the government.
Defending Ajit who is facing allegations over the irrigation scam, Pawar said: “Many projects like Ujani in my constituency have been pending since 1962 and work is still to be completed. The cost of land acquisition, relief and rehabilitation (of affected people), administrative set-up, environment norms — all affect the project and hike costs. All this should come before the public.’’
NCP sources told HT that the party could get more aggressive against Chavan which could further fuel the verbal war between the two allies. The NCP top brass is also unsure whether Ajit will remain silent or start attacking the government and putting the alliance in trouble in the coming days.