The white paper is not a charge sheet against Ajit Pawar but only a statement on the status of various projects in the state. Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik clarified this on Thursday.
Saying that there was no probe going on in the irrigation department against former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, Malik said the question of him getting a clean chit does not arise. He also claimed that the in the last five to 10 years, the irrigated land has increased by 28% when compared to the total irrigated land in the state.
Malik said the total percentage of irrigated land, when compared to the total agricultural land has increased by 5%, not 1%, in the last 10 years or so. He added that the agricultural department does not categorise land as irrigated if sugarcane, cotton seeds, fruits and soya bean are cultivated on it. A land is termed irrigated where only grains, wheat, pulses and oil seeds are cultivated.
Malik further claimed that there is no scam in the irrigation department when Ajit Pawar was in charge, no rule has been flouted and there was no corruption or irregularity.
On Ajit Pawar’s resignation, Malik said: "There were baseless allegations against the NCP and a white paper was being prepared. Ajitdada resigned to avoid any allegation that that he may influence the white paper on irrigation."
When asked about Ajit Pawar’s return to the cabinet, Malik said the rank and file of NCP wanted Ajit to be back in the ministry. However, the party would take a call on it.
Referring to the reports that the Centre had stopped funds under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme and seeking clarifications about some projects, Malik said seeking clarifications did not mean that an inquiry was on.