In the face of a scathing attack from NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on his slow decision-making, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has offered an olive branch to his coalition partner in the Democratic Front government. Breaking off the long-standing impasse with different state departments under the NCP, the CM has started holding a spate of meetings with different NCP ministers.
In a major breakthrough, Chavan yesterday transferred the food and civil supplies department secretary Bhagwan Sahai, fulfilling a request that had been made by the Food and civil supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh, who is an NCP member. The transfer will be followed by Chavan’s video-conference with senior officials of the food and civil supplies department today, in which he will speak to divisional commissioners and district collectors of the department. This is the first such high level-meeting to discuss UPA’s dream project of food security.
Anil Deshmukh will also be present at the meeting. This indicates a thawing of ties between the CM and his NCP colleagues, as many of Deshmukh’s requests for such meetings went unheeded in the past. Last morning, Deepak Kapur replaced Sahai as the new secretary of the food and civil supplies department. For over a year, Deshmukh has had differences with Sahai and had even demanded his immediate transfer, but Chavan had not obliged. Even as the UPA dream scheme of food security was in the last stages of its official launch, hardly any meetings were held between Deshmukh and Sahai.
This impasse even caught the attention of the Centre, and Chavan had held two meetings with Union Minister of State for food Prof K V Thomas in the presence of his party bosses, and the Union Minister for agriculture Sharad Pawar.
There are several issues waiting to be ironed out between the CM and Deshmukh. While Deshmukh has fixed December 1 as the date to launch the food security scheme in the state, the CM is yet specify any date for it, pointed out the sources from the government. In his letter written last week, Deshmukh had asked for the appointment of Purushottam Bhapkar as the secretary for the food and civil supplies department. But the CM not only ignored the demand and appointed Kapur, but also posted Bhapkar as the director of municipal administration -- a rather insignificant posting.
In a parallel development, the CM has decided to give priority to the development of Navi Mumbai. On Friday, Chavan will be chairing a meeting in Navi Mumbai, which is represented by NCP MLA Ganesh Naik. The minister had earlier made several requests for a meeting with the CM, who also controls CIDCO as the head of the urban development department.
Chavan has also addressed the irrigation projects in western Maharashtra, something that is largely in the hands of the NCP. Chavan held a meeting, where NCP ministers R R Patil and Shashikant Shinde were present along with Congress Minister Dr Patangrao Kadam.
NCP’s barbs at Chavan
>> In the past fortnight, the NCP has come down hard on the CM for what they claim is his slow decision-making and non-cooperative attitude. Soon after party chief Sharad Pawar targeted the CM in Pune – using the word ‘paralysis’ while alluding to the slow pace at which the CM approves files
>> Deputy CM Ajit Pawar directed all the NCP ministers to submit details of letters written to the CM on crucial issues pertaining to departments controlled by them.
>> All the NCP ministers then submitted the list, containing details of the letters, reminders and pending issues. Close on the heels of this development, Chavan was seen holding meetings with sundry NCP headed departments.