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Code of conduct on the anvil for mouthy ministers

Despite the appearances, the picture is not that perfect in the Congress-NCP’s state government. Differences among ministers are rocking the Democratic Front boat, calling for improved coordination between ministers and a standard code of conduct for them. The issue of ongoing tiffs between ministers took well over an hour of the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. All senior bureaucrats were asked to leave the meeting hall so that ‘the most pressing issue’ could be taken up.

According to sources, Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, a Congressman, asked, “Where is the coordination between the coalition partners, even as our leaders have announced to fight the coming elections to Lok Sabha and state council jointly?” He was referring to the ongoing war of words between him and NCP leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. Ever since Pawar, who heads the energy department, decided to wind up the defaulting Mula-Pravara Cooperative Power Consumers Society, relations between Vikhe-Patil and Pawar have soured.

While Pawar criticised the way the affairs of the unit controlled by Vikhe-Patil were managed, the latter retorted with references of corruption in the irrigation sector. The tiff between Pawar and Vikhe-Patil has become a hot potato in Ahmednagar, the latter’s home district where the society had its headquarters. Similarly, at a number of local fora, Congress and NCP ministers target each other. In a bid to outsmart the other, leaders of both parties take assistance of Shiv Sena, BJP and MNS.

The debate during the cabinet meeting arrived at the conclusion that there should be a code of conduct as both the allies are going to face the coming elections together. Vikhe-Patil demanded a coordination committee to discuss the issue. His demand was accepted by both the sides, said a senior minister. “Senior ministers from both the sides will sit together to work out a code of conduct, which will be binding on Congress and NCP ministers to adhere to in letter and spirit,” the minister said. “This will avoid embarrassing moments for us as we are together going to take on BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS in the coming elections,” he said.

Retract transfer act
The state cabinet meeting held a lengthy discussion on repealing the act of transfers of government employees, which is proving to be ‘more of a problem than a solution’. “The act, enforced after social worker Anna Hazare’s vociferous demand, is being misused by a section of officials and the government has become powerless,” contended the ministers.

Home Minister R R Patil said that police officials after being posted at a particular place do not heed the orders of superiors or the government, as they get a fixed three-year tenure. “The government cannot transfer them before the tenure is over and this has led to a number of problems,” he said. Many ministers, however, said there should be a rethink keeping in mind the reactions from the media and the public.

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