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CM defensive, deputy aggressive during manifesto release

Contrasting approaches of Cong's Prithviraj Chavan and NCP's Ajit Pawar were in evidence yesterday, while the two leaders were handling the media's queries on the coalition's plans for the BMC at YB Chavan Centre

It's all there. From a single-window system for speedy delivery of services to abundant water supply, glitzy roads, encroachment-free pavements, rationalisation of property tax and state-of-the-art infrastructure. Anything and everything that denizens of a 21st century burgeoning metropolis yearn for have been promised in the Congress-NCP joint manifesto for BMC polls.

Determined to end the 16-year reign of the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition, the combine is leaving no stone unturned.

The 23-point joint manifesto signed by CM Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre, state NCP chief Madhukar Pichad, Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and Mumbai NCP chief Narendra Verma, promises the moon to make Mumbai a city of dreams.


Last word: Deputy CM Ajit Pawar had his way at the release of the
manifesto yesterday. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abidi


Different strokes
But, Chavan and Pawar had their own styles of presenting the issue. On Wednesday, while releasing the manifesto at the YB Chavan Centre near mantralaya, the difference in their approaches was palpable.

Facing a barrage of questions related to the manifesto, Chavan was taking things academically. But his deputy was quite aggressive, as he is known to be. To a question on encroachment-free pavements and rationalisation of property tax, as promised in the manifesto, Chavan appeared quite defensive and gave a lengthy reply. But his deputy intervened. "Sena and BJP have ruled BMC for 16 long years. Now give five years to us and we will show our political resolve to change the face of the metropolis," Pawar said.

While concluding his reply, Pawar left the dais to the surprise of those present.

Ready reply
Earlier, to a question on making grounds and roads available to political parties for holding public rallies, Chavan was defensive saying the government would deal with the issue according to the Supreme Court's views. But, his deputy said he was firmly of the view that grounds and roads should be available for rallies. "Whatever the court's view may be, but we find a way out," he said, even as the CM listened with an amused expression.

Pawar also had the final say at the start of the manifesto-release event. When the compere asked who should speak first -- state unit chiefs of the parties or the city unit chiefs -- Pawar said it should be the city unit chiefs. This view was accepted.

CM chaired 5 out of 9 meetings
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was so keen on the finer points in the manifesto that he chaired four meetings with his party leaders and a joint meeting where NCP leaders were also present, said sources. On the other hand, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, who was keen to forge an alliance with Congress, was missing from the meetings. Congress leaders had three meetings with NCP to finalise the manifesto. The last meeting happened in the presence of city unit chiefs of the party.

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