The passing of a proposal to set up two agricultural colleges in Karad and Yavatmal sparked off fierce debate at a meeting recently, with several ministers trying to outshout each other and have things their way. Karad happens to be the hometown of Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan, and Yavatmal the district of former Chief Minister Vasantrao Naik.
When the proposal was introduced, Industries Minister Narayan Rane, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and state Excise Minister Ganesh Naik objected strongly, sources said.
This is the third project to go to Karad, with the Chavan-led government having approved of decisions to open a new medical college and a separate RTO office in the city.
According to sources, Rane’s grouse was that nothing was coming in the way of Konkan in general and Sindhudurg district — his home — in particular. He had expected that the project would have come to his region, as had Bhujbal expected it would go to Nashik, his region.
Disgruntled over the decision, Bhujbal raised his voice, and soon, district guardian minister of Thane Ganesh Naik also added to the chorus, saying that priority should be given to Thane, the biggest district of the state.
To add to their ire, a proposal was also speedily passed to set up an agricultural college at Solapur. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar reportedly batted for it on behalf of his uncle Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who represents Madha Lok Sabha constituency in the district.
The explanation offered for priority being given to Karad and Yavatmal was that the two are birthplaces of YB Chavan and Vasantrao Naik respectively, and their centenary is being celebrated this year. Not all were convinced, however —unhappy leaders whispered among themselves that Chavan is concentrating on Karad as he wants to consolidate his power in his hometown for future elections.