Turf wars between ministers as Maharashtra govt nears 100-day mark

  • Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 05, 2015 22:22 IST

With the Maharashtra government edging towards the 100-day mark, a new turf war has emerged - this time between ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena.

Housing minister Prakash Mehta, in a letter dated January 22, 2015, has directed his department officials to ensure that all files related to redevelopment of Mumbai’s cess buildings, slum redevelopment and SRA schemes should be sent only to him. This means none of the ‘lucrative’ housing proposals related to Mumbai will reach his deputy - minister of state (MoS) for housing Ravindra Waikar who is from the Sena.

Earlier this week, a cold war broke out between chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and revenue minister Eknath Khadse for excessive interference in his departments.

Waikar’s office has confirmed that no files related to Mumbai are being routed through him. In the normal course of work, files travel from a desk officer to the deputy secretary, secretary, MoS and then the cabinet minister. As per tradition, cabinet ministers delegate some work from the department to their deputies, but nothing of this sort has happened in this department so far.

“It is true that some files are not coming down to me. No one should try and deliberately cause hurdles in the work processes. It is important that we work together and ensure that problems of people are addressed in a friendly manner,” Waikar said.

The letter clearly states that files that require permissions for SRA projects, redevelopment of slums under 33(10) and redevelopment of Mumbai’s old cess dilapidated buildings under 33(7) will come directly to Mehta.

The housing minister, however, dismissed suggestions that the files were being kept away from Waikar.

“In the past month, no files on these matters have come to me. Every government has its own policy on the division of work between the state and cabinet ministers. In this case, the chief minister will take a decision on this,” Mehta told Hindustan Times.

Meanwhile, the fight between Fadnavis and Khadse said to have happened because of two incidents – one where the CM transferred a revenue secretary last month without Khadse’s permission and, on Tuesday, when he transferred Khadse’s personal secretary.

Along with minister of state for housing Ravindra Waikar, four other Sena ministers of state are said to be miffed as none of their seniors - all BJP cabinet ministers - have delegated any work to them as yet

Interestingly, of the six BJP junior ministers, four of them are directly under their own BJP ministers, one minister is partly under both party seniors, while one is under the Sena, which keeps them happy

The minister of state for women and child welfare, Vidya Thakur, who works with Cabinet minister Pankaja Munde, says she is happy with the work she is getting, and there are no problems

On the file movement issue, a senior government official said it was the prerogative of a Cabinet minister to decide what work to delegate to the deputy. There is no compulsion of all files going to the deputy minister, the official added

However, if a minister of state asks for a file, it should be given to him, even though he may not have any powers to make changes to the decisions taken.

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