How times change! The first few years following 1999 when the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was spawned witnessed many instances of Congress bending over backwards to keep its ally in good humour. Now fast forward to yesterday, when Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan turned up 25 minutes late at a 4 pm meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Pawar, who was punctual, had to count the minutes at the Sahyadri state guesthouse, Malabar Hill. Sources say Chavan was busy in conferences at his official residence, Varsha, a stone’s throw from the venue. When asked about the delay, an official from the CM’s secretariat said Pawar had sought two hours for the meeting and this was accepted. And despite the deferral Chavan spent the pre-decided period with the NCP supremo. The meeting was over certain issues of employees from Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation. Pawar was accompanied by MSRTC chairman Jeevanrao Gore.
It was not clear whether both leaders had a separate parley to discuss ongoing political issues. The encounter of the two political heavyweights was significant considering the current deadlock in the state legislature where opposition parties have been vociferously demanding the resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar over his insensitive remarks pertaining to the drought situation. Political rivals have been asking Chavan to apologise over the remarks, a call vehemently opposed by Ajit Pawar himself.