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Cong-NCP skirmish mars birth centenary of longest-serving CM

The irony lies in the fact that the centenary started four months ago. Sources attributed the delay to indecision and internal dissension between the Congress and NCP, and predicted that the centenary celebrations, which usually span the entire duration of the year, could be crammed into three months next year.

Vasantrao Naik
The Pioneer: Vasantrao Naik served as chief minister for 11 years and three months — the longest stint by any state chief minister so far — from December 1963 to February 1975. He is remembered for pioneering works such as ushering in the green revolution in the state, starting an employment guaranty scheme, implementing the Tenancy Act and the Cotton Monopoly Procurement Scheme. File pic

Naik served as chief minister for 11 years and three months – the longest stint by any state chief minister so far — from December 1963 to February 1975. He is remembered for pioneering works such as ushering in the green revolution in the state, starting an employment guaranty scheme (EGS), implementing the Tenancy Act and the Cotton Monopoly Procurement Scheme.

Naik’s birth centenary began on July 1 this year — four months ago, that is. It is only now that a state committee has started discussions on the pending celebrations.

It will take another couple of months just to decide how to celebrate the centenary year, said a source from the Democratic Front, attributing the embarrassing delay to internal skirmishes between the Congress and NCP.

At present, the FDA Minister Manohar Naik, nephew of the late Naik, is with the NCP. Sharad Pawar’s party thus tried to usurp this as a political opportunity to mobilise its cadre in Yavatmal, Naik’s home district. Meanwhile, Congress members stayed mum on the issue, conveniently calling it an NCP affair.

But the Congress bigwigs sat up and started taking note when it was pointed out that the Naiks have always enjoyed the backing of the Banjara community, which is a substantial part of the vote bank, particularly in Vidarbha, but also in other pockets of the state.

This prompted the Congress to jump on to the bandwagon and make plans for celebration at the government level, revealed the source. But it was already too late.

By the time, the birth centenary celebrations of the state’s first chief minister Y B Chavan were on in full swing, the programmes for the same having been scheduled months in advance. This became a source of great disgruntlement in Yavatmal, which is populated by Naik’s supporters.

After much deliberation, it was decided that a committee would be formed. It took a few more days to come to a consensus about the members who would man the committee. Nine members from the Congress and seven members from the NCP were finally chosen.

Time-consuming bureaucratic procedures are pending – programmes have to be decided by the committee, funds required for the celebrations will have to be requested, and will possibly be allocated in the next annual budget in March 2013. This means that all celebrations will have to be crammed into the three-month window between April and June next year.

MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre, who is also from Yavatmal, said the centenary year could be extended, if necessary. Asked why there was such a delay in the formation of the committee, he said that it took time to finalise names of members from the NCP. 

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