The war of words between Congress and NCP — partners in the Democratic Front government — has reached its nadir with usage of some pungent remarks by leaders of both parties in recent days. Congress yesterday warned its ally of tit for tat if NCP continued to attack chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
The grand old party is particularly peeved at the comments made against the CM by NCP’s state unit chief Madhukar Pichad on Monday while addressing a rally in Nanded district. Pichad termed Chavan gutless, appealing his party men to make all out efforts to ensure Ajit Pawar becomes the next CM as he is known for making quick decisions.
Things started to steadily go downhill a few days ago when home minister and NCP leader R R Patil criticised Congress, saying most of the leaders of the party were in jail. His remarks, made during an election rally for Dahanu civic body elections, were aimed at a prominent local Congress leader who was behind bars following charges of corruption.
Reacting sharply to this, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre termed NCP a party of criminal leaders. NCP leaders slammed the ball right back in Congress’ court, asking why the latter has continued to remain in an alliance with them over the last 12 years. NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar too jumped into the fray saying Thakre may have better information on this issue as he was minister of state for home earlier.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik echoed Pawar’s views, but added more seasoning saying Thakre’s knowledge ‘was just 50 per cent’ as he was an MoS and did not get a cabinet berth. The bickering took a grave turn when Malik said the CM was inefficient as he delayed decision-making.
On Monday, NCP leaders were at their antagonistic best — Sharad Pawar spoke at Kolhapur, Pichad and ex-deputy CM Ajit Pawar took a few potshots during the rally in Nanded district and Nawab Malik was venting his spleen in Mumbai. Pawar Senior rubbed salt into Congress’ already raw wounds, saying the latter was dragging its feet on expansion of the state cabinet since the last two years.
Yesterday, MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant warned NCP, and maintained that the language used by its leaders was condemnable. He added that decisions at the CM’s level were taken after due diligence and not taking into consideration interests of private contractors and builders. Hasty decision-making has cost the state dearly in the recent past, he said. Sawant cautioned NCP, saying Congress would retaliate if the attacks against the CM continued.
Sources from the alliance say NCP is upset with some issues pending with the CM for clearance. The party is also said to be keen on a reshuffle of the state cabinet, due since long. On the other hand, Chavan is said to be delaying the exercise to unnerve NCP and his detractors within Congress.