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CM's appointment of Pune CP was last straw for NCP

Senior officials in the Democratic Front have finally revealed details about the precipitating even that triggered off the bitter standoff between NCP and Congress, causing major political turbulence last week. According to senior functionary of the Democratic Front, the growing discontent in NCP reached its nadir when CM Prithviraj Chavan steamrollered a decision for certain appointments of senior cops in Pune.

Sources say that Chavan was keen on the appointment of Gulabrao Pol as the Pune city police commissioner, and went ahead with the appointment even though the NCP camp, Home Minister R R Patil in particular, was keen on another candidate. As per a tacit agreement in place since 1999, crucial appointments in the Pune — including those of police commissioner, divisional commissioner and district collector — are always made on the basis of recommendations from Sharad Pawar and his nephew and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar.

Over the last few months, NCP has been trying to remind Chavan and other senior Congress ministers about the coalition dharma followed since 1999. While former Congress CMs have followed these unwritten rules in letter and spirit, things changed once Chavan took over, and soon complaints reached Sharad Pawar. The appointments in Pune was the proverbial last straw, said a leader from the NCP state unit. Similarly, at least five names from the IPS transfer list were changed at the insistence of Congress leaders from the state, in contradiction to names fielded by NCP.

On Saturday, the brief spell of amity between the parties came under threat again, when Sharad Pawar spoke out against the Congress’ meddling ways with departments held by his party ministers.

The party has also made it clear that it wants someone from the Union cabinet to replace AICC state-in-charge Mohan Prakash as a member of the coordination committee.

“We have Praful Patel as a member as he understands issues related to the state. Even Defence Minister A K Antony was not a problem when he was state-in-charge, as he was a Union Minister and aware of the responsibilities. We would have no problem even if someone like Sushilkumar Shinde joins as a member,” a senior minister said off the record.

Close on the heels of Pawar’s statements, NCP state unit Chief Madhukar Pichad complained on Sunday that Chavan prefers Congress MLAs to NCP MLAs. Rubbishing the statement, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said that the CM and his ministers believe in doing work for the public, and not that of any personal nature. “If the CM is going against someone’s personal agenda, it is fine,” he said. 

Look who’s back!
Even though Congress MLA Kripashankar Singh has been mired in controversy over his disproportionate assets, he still has his band of faithfuls. Congressmen put up huge banners and hoardings in Bandra and around his residence, wishing him on his birthday.

The banners also have pictures of Congress heavyweights like party President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh and state party chief Manikrao Thakre. Explaing why the banners were put up, the party’s spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that Singh is very much a member of the party and hasn’t been convicted yet. Pic/Satyajit Desai

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