Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan met his top Congress legislators on Thursday to discuss Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's resignation offer.
The Congress has denied that the resignation drama is an NCP ploy to put pressure on the Congress. But Chavan baiters Narayan Rane and Ashok Chavan did not attend the meet.
After Ajit Pawar's resignation offer, reports say pressure has been building on Chavan to be replaced. However, he continues to insist that he enjoys the High Command's confidence.
Chavan says he will decide on accepting Ajit Pawar's resignation after consulting the high command. Ajit Pawar had offered to resign after CNN-IBN reported irregularities in 32 irrigation projects that Ajit Pawar had awarded.
In the first direct attack on Prithviraj Chavan, the NCP had on Wednesday accused him of using the white paper on irrigation to target them.
"When the irrigation minister has already made his presentation, then why has the white paper not been tabled? Why the delay? (Is it) to keep the clouds of suspicion hanging?" said senior NCP leader Jitendra Awhad.
The NCP maintained that it was not on them, but up to the Congress to decide on the whether there would be a leadership change in Maharashtra.
"Whether to recall Prithviraj Chavan to Delhi or change the Chief Minister is up to the Congress," said Sharad Pawar.
Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar has also said that there is no going back on Ajit Pawar's resignation as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar also told IBN Network that his family was united and there were no differences.
Sharad Pawar said that Ajit Pawar took the decision after speaking to him and that he gave the go ahead to him to resign. He also said that the resignation was Ajit Pawar's personal decision. He also said that there was no need for the other NCP ministers to resign.
This comes even as the NCP legislators passed a single line resolution on Wednesday asking Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation. Ajit Pawar supporters in the NCP on Wednesday came out to protest outside the state Assembly building, blaming Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for the crisis.
Now, BJP faces fire in irrigation scam
Even as the crisis in the Maharashtra government continues, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also facing fire in the irrigation scam.
India Against Corruption activists are pointing fingers at BJP President Nitin Gadkari alleging that he didn't help their efforts because of his proximity to Sharad Pawar.
IAC member Anjali Damania claimed that she met Gadkari thrice, but he refused help as he did not want to disappoint Sharad Pawar. "I met Nitin Gadkari thrice - twice in 2011 and once on August 14, 2012 to discuss about the irrigation scam. What he told me shocked me. He said Sharad Pawar does something for his party and his party does something for Pawar. He said you can go ahead with your fight but we can't do anything," Damania said.
"I asked Gadkari why BJP was not allowing Kirit Somaiya to file a PIL. He asked me if Somaiya had sent me. When I said no, Gadkari said Somaiya is an eccentric man, he doesn't know the entire game. He said if they have to share seats they will have to be with the NCP only. I was shocked when I heard this," she added.
CNN-IBN has accessed letters that show that BJP President Nitin Gadkari's aide Ajay Sancheti got licences against the rules. Ajit Pawar as the President of the Vidharbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) had issued a circular allowing more than three contracts per contractor. The move benefitted Ajay Sancheti who is also a BJP MP.
The name of Sancheti's company was changed to SMS Infrastructure in 2005. Breaking company registrar's rules, Sancheti sought and got licences for both of his companies from VIDC in 2007.
He then went on to form a Joint Venture with D&SN Thakkars and secured contracts worth Rs 156 crore.
However, Sancheti has denied any wrongdoing. He told CNN-IBN, "All these are baseless allegations. This is nothing but an attempt to malign Nitin Gadkari. I didn't break any law. The company's name was changed as per established guidelines. I was only getting payments for a while in my earlier companies name as state permissions for company name changes take a while."