After Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan may also avoid Modi

Aug 20, 2014, 08:06 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

While the PM seems to be the darling of the masses, he is turning into the bete noire of Congress CMs, with Chavan considering skipping a ceremony for the Nagpur Metro tomorrow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be popular among the masses, but he seems to be alienating chief ministers. After Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda (see box), Maharashtra’s Prithviraj Chavan may become the second Congress CM to refuse to share the dais with the PM.

Modi at the JNPT function on Saturday, where he used the CM's statement to take pot shots at the previous UPA regime. File pic
Modi at the JNPT function on Saturday, where he used the CM's statement to take pot shots at the previous UPA regime. File pic

While Chavan and Modi are slated to share the dais during the bhoomi poojan for the Nagpur Metro tomorrow, the CM was reportedly unsure of attending the function till late last evening.

According to sources in the Congress, Chavan is unhappy with the experiences he had while sharing the stage with the PM during two functions on Saturday - at Nhava Sheva, during a JNPT function, and at Solapur, where he was accompanying the PM for the inauguration of the four-lane National Highway number 9.

At the JNPT function, Chavan drew Modi’s attention to 146 SeZs that were cleared by the state but had failed to take off due to reasons such as the non-delivery of promised facilities and administrative hurdles.

“As many as 23 SeZs have been scrapped,” the CM had said. When it was his turn to speak, Modi used the CM’s statement to take pot shots at the previous Congress-led UPA regime at the Centre.

“Chavan must have had these concerns before as well, but was probably unable to voice them at the time. This is an old disease and it requires a good doctor. I will address it now,” said the Prime Minister.

At Solapur, CM Chavan had to abandon his speech midway after the crowd began chanting Modi’s name. His speech was disrupted when he was demanding a stretch of road connecting the Pune-Bengaluru national highway to the Konkan region.

Chavan and other Congress leaders immediately realised that the incidents would damage the party’s image ahead of the state assembly elections and also that they would hurt the morale of party workers, said sources.

Some Congress leaders, in fact, blamed the CM for the JNPT snub. “The CM should realise that he is not dealing with Manmohan Singh anymore. Modi is a shrewd leader and he demonstrated that by using the CM’s complaint about SeZs to the BJP’s advantage.

He should not have handed the ammunition to Modi on a platter, especially when he knew that the PM would be speaking after him,” said a senior Congress leader. Congress leaders are also reportedly unhappy with the CM’s decision of receiving Modi at the airport when he landed in Mumbai on Saturday.

Raut too?
Water conservation minister Dr Nitin Raut, who is also the district guardian minister of Nagpur, has also reportedly decided not to attend the Metro function tomorrow if the CM decides to skip it. When mid-day asked Raut about this, he did not give a direct reply and said he was getting details of the CM’s itinerary. When contacted, a senior official from the CM’s office said the Nagpur itinerary was yet to be finalised.

Hooda fumes
Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda faced some embarrassing moments yesterday when the crowd at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of a highway in Kaithal by PM Modi booed him and chanted slogans against the state government.

At a press conference after the event, Hooda said he would not attend any more functions alongside the PM. “I will not attend any such event in the future as no respect was given to us. This was a government function and I was invited for it. But the BJP turned it into their own event,” he said.

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