Patnaik gone, will RR Patil be next?
After police commissioner Arup Patnaik, will it be home minister RR Patil’s turn to go? With Patnaik shunted out, the Opposition is now clamouring for Patil’s resignation, accusing him of mishandling the August 11 protest at Azad Maidan.
“We are not happy with Patnaik’s promotion and transfer. We want him to be suspended and an inquiry ordered against him. And home minister RR Patil, who has lost all control over his department, should resign with immediate effect,” said BJP’s Vinod Tawde, who is also the leader of Opposition in the legislative council.
However, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) top brass is likely to wait for the next cabinet reshuffle before easing Patil out of the home ministry, if at all. The party has been quite critical of Patil’s performance of late. After the serial blasts in Pune earlier this month, NCP chief Sharad Pawar rebuked his former protégé Patil for failing to exert authority in the home department. This set tongues wagging about Patil’s departure. The Pune incident was followed by the Azad Maidan violence, complicating matters for the home minister.
Patil’s exit, if at all, is likely to come through a cabinet reshuffle.
“If Patil has to be transferred, it will be done at the time of reshuffle and is unlikely to be done now,” a senior NCP minister said. “The Opposition can say what it wants; it will not decide cabinet portfolios, [Sharad] Pawar will.”
On his part, the home minister rubbished suggestions that he was being booted out. “There are no senior posts vacant in my party, so there is no question of me getting promoted like Arup Patnaik,” Patil said.
The final decision in the matter also depends on the internal politics and the changing power equation between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. It is no secret that Ajit Pawar has not been too keen on Patil as home minister, but his uncle does not want to hand over all reins of power to his nephew.
Sources in the NCP said speculation was rife that Patil may be replaced by rural development minister Jayant Patil, or Assembly speaker and senior NCP leader Dilip Walse Patil, neither of who are on good terms with Ajit Pawar.
There’s a slim chance that Pawar may chose to keep the portfolio for himself.