The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has threatened to pull out of the Prithviraj Chavan government and give it support from outside if the chief minister does not speed up the decision-making process. Sources in the cabinet confirmed this development on Wednesday.
Deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar reportedly expressed the fear that his party may suffer in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls if decisions are not taken quickly. A similar view was shared by several ministers of the Congress also, it is learnt. In fact, Chavan came under attack from ministers of both the Congress and the NCP at the weekly meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday.
Following the heated debate, the state cabinet has decided to go into an overdrive to clear all pending proposals before the election code of conduct comes into force.
A senior cabinet minister from the Congress said that the issue of slow decision-making was raised at the meeting of the state cabinet on Wednesday, with ministers pointing to various pending proposals from their departments.
The ball was reportedly set rolling by Ajit Pawar and his cabinet colleagues like Anil Deshmukh (NCP) and Nitin Raut (Congress) are also said to have chipped in. Pawar is reported to have pointed out that the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and farmer leader and Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti joining hands with the Shiv Sena and the BJP did not bode well for the ruling alliance.
It is learnt that the discussion touched upon issues like regularisation of slums, transfers of police officials and electricity related issues. The Congress minister added that Chavan and Pawar met ministers, ministers of state, chief secretary JS Saharia and secretaries of various departments on Wednesday evening to review pending proposals.
This joint meeting will help ascertain if the proposals were pending at the chief minister’s office level or in the finance department. Pawar holds the finance portfolio. Cabinet notes for proposals which will be accepted will also be taken up in the special meeting of the cabinet scheduled for Thursday morning.
The minister said multiple cabinet meeting could be held every week to clear such pending proposals. Usually, the state cabinet meets on Wednesday morning. With the Lok Sabha elections likely in April- May, the state government will also present a ‘vote on account’ on February 24.
A NCP minister said this was an attempt to clear pending proposals before the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections was announced. “This may be the AAP effect,” he said, pointing out that speedy decisions before the elections could take some sting out of the opposition’s allegations.
“Whatever decisions need to be taken must be taken now,” urged a Congress minister, adding that otherwise, the Congress and NCP would have a tough time battling the anti-incumbency wave in Maharashtra.
The state cabinet also approved an additional expenditure of Rs 622.84 crore in the present year for 147 irrigation projects which are under construction but whose approved costs have increased due to factors like a change in the design, increase in the schedule of rates and land acquisition.