May 19, 2011

Sour NCP-Cong ties hurting Maharashtra

MUMBAI: The relation between the Congress and the NCP - coalition partners in the Maharashtra government - has turned really sour.

In a bid to avoid each other, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan (Congress party) and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar (NCP) have cancelled state government's weekly cabinet meetings for two weeks in a row.

As a result, several important government decisions, including the one about energy purchase from other states in the peak summer season, have got delayed.

A major political tussle began between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress party (NCP) in Maharashtra since the first week of May. The tussle was triggered mainly by the dissolution of the board of directors of NCP-controlled Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank. The RBI decision to dissolve the board was seen by the NCP as a political move initiated by the Congress party.

There has been an open war of words between the leaders of both these parties ever since NCP leader and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar made allegations over the dissolution. Because of the tension between the coalition partners, the last week's (May9-14) cabinet meeting, which usually happens on Wednesdays, first got postponed and then cancelled.

This week's ( May16-21) cabinet meeting has also got cancelled. CM Prithviraj Chavan was in Delhi on Wednesday while Deputy CM Ajit Pawar scheduled other important meetings at Mantralaya, almost taking it for granted in advance that cabinet meeting will not happen.

Congress sources said some important decisions such as power purchase from other states to take care of the current 2,500MW shortfall in the state and decisions on housing policy are pending the approval of the cabinet. State government's important decision to announce extra Floor Space Index for Mumbai and some other decisions on cloth mills are also pending because of cabinet meeting not happening.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy CM Pawar are to visit Delhi on Thursday to meet Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on order to get a clearance for the state's annual plan.

Sources say the state is going to ask for additional allotment of funds in the plan. However, with the political rift becoming so evident; there are doubts whether Maharashtra CM and Deputy CM will attend this meeting together.

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