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Party before city for CM?

As majority of Chief Minister's recent visits to city have been devoted to attending Congress events, opposition parties and even insiders from ally NCP say Prithviraj Chavan putting development of his party over development of Pune.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's frequent trips to the city in the past few months have given rise to much speculation among not only opposition parties but also ally NCP over the motive behind his visits. It is felt that Chavan is devoting most of his time resolving the leadership crisis in the Congress and doing other party work on these trips rather than fulfilling the expectations the city has from him as the CM.


Party matters: CM Prithviraj Chavan with party leaders at the
Congress Bhavan on October 31. File pic


While citizens complain of the inconvenience they face when traffic is held up by the CM's convoy and sources in the police say even the department is overworked with frequent bandobast duty, the political class has the grouse that the CM should pay more attention to developmental issues facing the city rather than spending time on Congress functions.


Party time: Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan (third from right) with
senior Congress leaders at a party workers' meet at Congress Bhavan
in the city on October 31. file Pic


Chavan has visited the city as many as six times since August to take part in various functions, and even the airport authority hinted that frequent VIP visits to the city were inconveniencing people.

Competing with NCP
The most surprising reaction came from NCP insiders, who said checking the increasing influence of the NCP in the city and helping the Congress cling on to its position here was the main reason behind so many visits by the CM. According to MNS state general secretary and political scholar Anil Shidore, the leadership crisis that the Congress is facing in the city, especially after Member of Parliament from the city Suresh Kalmadi's arrest in the Commonwealth Games scam, may be the main reason behind every visit of the CM.

"Although there aren't any norms on how many times the CM should visit a particular city, there still are some protocols which the CM has to follow," Shidore said. "The CM's previous visits also showed that most of the functions he attended in the city were related to his party, which makes it look like an attempt to resolve the leadership crisis at the city level."

Shidore added that citizens would be happier if their CM would look after the issues that are directly related to the city, whether it is the appointment of a vice-chancellor for the University of Pune or looking into the awful condition of PMC schools.

DP pending
BJP MLA Girish Bapat asked why the CM had kept pending the Development Plan (DP) of the city, which has been stuck since 2005. "The CM is only interested in saving his party's position in the city. Puneites always expect that he (CM) will expedite pending projects and schemes, but nothing significant has been seen by citizens in his last six visits to the city," he said.

NCP insiders were of the view that the Congress was worried that its main coalition partner in the state would steal its hold on the city from it and the CM was trying to ensure this did not happen. They said Chavan was visiting the city only to strengthen his party and spur Congress workers to work towards regaining their hold on the city.

Admitting passengers were put through some inconvenience because of VIP visits to the city, airport director PSRK Sudhakar said: "Once the ceremonial section of the new administrative block for VIPs is completed by the end of next year, all issues passengers have will be resolved."

Overworked police
Police sources when a VIP visits the city, all planned leaves of policemen concerned with the required bandobast and the traffic department are cancelled. The number of policemen to be posted for a particular VIP depends on the venues which the VIP visits. The staff from police stations concerned are also engaged for the safety of the VIP. The bandobast cannot be removed until the VIP reaches the airport, said the sources.

CM in the city
Details of VIP visits to the city are kept at the district information office. Sources in the office gave the following information on the Cm's visits to the city:
>> August 14: CM visited the farmers injured in the Maval firing
>> August 15: CM came to city late in the evening to hold a meeting with senior Congress party leaders 
>> August 16: CM visited Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA) and distributed Punya Bhushan awards 
>> August 21: CM visited city for naming ceremony and to inauguration of Rajiv Gandhi E-Learning Centre, a project that is the brainchild of Congress corporator Aba Bagul  
>> September 3: CM visited city to address women's wing of Congress
>> October 31: CM came to city to address party workers in Congress Bhavan

(Sources said that besides the visits mentioned above, the CM came to the city on other occasions without any prior information having been given on his trip)

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