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Ajit Pawar snaps at CM, stalls meeting

A livid NCP, led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, stalled the meeting held at Vidhan Bhavan late on Thursday over an issue pertaining to irrigation sector. 

When the meeting began, Ajit asked CM Prithviraj Chavan where the proposal to pass a resolution to take up irrigation projects beyond capacity of 250 hectares was. The NCP has been pushing for the move for long now.


Face-off: CM Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar

When Chavan replied that the file had just come to him, Pawar retorted that the issue had been going on for long enough and questioned him how it could have taken so long. When the CM said that he wanted to check it before signing it, the stalemate ensued.

Pawar plainly told Chavan that the proposal had to be introduced and approved in the same meeting. After an hour of heated debates and angry exchanges, an unrelenting NCP finally prevailed. Department officials were asked to move quickly and introduce notes on the proposal in the meeting. The cabinet approved it. The resolution was passed, and will be forwarded to the governor.

The rift between the coalition partners appeared earlier when Governor K Sankara-narayanan, while issuing directives for irrigation sector for 2012-13, asked the government not to take up projects beyond the said potential, citing financial crisis and irrigation scams in the state.

The NCP, which has been in charge of irrigation (now called water resources) since 1999, was unhappy with the directive. The issue which is important to NCP was raised many times by the Sharad Pawar-led party but the Congress did not address it.

A government functionary said that during the last cabinet meeting, Pawar, former irrigation department head, had told CM Prithviraj Chavan that his party would not allow the next meeting to begin unless the resolution -- that the governor should allow water resources department to undertake projects beyond capacity of 250 hectares -- is passed. As it turned out, Ajit was true to his word and the meeting was allowed to go on only after Congress agreed to its terms.

Sources said the NCP wanted to take credit for diversion of 18.5 tmc of water for the dry Marathwada region. 

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