Ajit Pawar throws fit in cabinet meet over slow progress of files

The deputy chief minister, an NCP man, shook the Congress-led state government, alleging non-cooperative attitude and sluggish decision-making by the latter

The daggers are finally out. The souring Congress-NCP ties turned bitter on Wednesday, with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar telling off the Congress for holding up proposals in various government departments. “We are ready to sit outside the government and you can run it with our support,” growled Pawar, upset over the alleged non-cooperative attitude of bureaucracy in general and Congress in particular, said a senior government functionary.

Ajit Pawar. File pic

As soon as the weekly meeting of the state cabinet began at Sahyadri, the state guesthouse at Malabar Hill, officers were asked to wait outside the meeting hall for some time. Then, Pawar is believed to have conveyed that even as the Lok Sabha elections were imminent, hardly any major decisions were being made by the state government. “We have to face the elections very soon, but are we prepared for it?” said Pawar, further asking whether the coalition was going to hand over the reins to rival parties.

Said sources, “There was complete silence when he was venting his anger mixed with frustration.” Pawar then told Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan that proposals pertaining to various departments were being held back or put in abeyance. “Even after several reminders and requests, they were not being processed or forwarded to the cabinet for final decisions. Officials are behaving as they please,” the deputy chief minister is believed to have said.

“Proposals of irrigation projects were delayed for long despite availability of funds. No work can be started in the absence of revised administrative approval by the government. If you want to say something, say it on the file but process it at the earliest,” said the leader, who has many issues with the manner in which the government is being run.

Galvanic action
Such was the impact of his argument and the veiled threat that the proposal from the water resources department was accorded immediate approval, even though it was not on the cabinet agenda. With the decision, 143 projects costing Rs 622.84 crore in all were approved.

Responding to Pawar, Chavan said that on the day itself cabinet ministers would sit together with their ministers of state and departmental secretaries to discuss pending files and projects, which would be submitted for cabinet approval. Accordingly, after attending the four-hour-long cabinet meeting, ministers returned to Sahyadri around 5 in the evening, and sat for meetings which supposedly went on till 9 pm.

The state cabinet will have meetings today and tomorrow to discuss proposals that need to be approved before the coming elections. Later, during a function at Mantralaya, when Ajit Pawar was asked about his reported tantrum during the meet, he reminded us of the oath of office and the secrecy accorded by the governor and remained tight-lipped.

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