Maharashtra crisis: Chavan accepts Ajit Pawar’s resignation

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan accepted the resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday accepted the resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, bringing the curtains down on the political crisis in the state.

Chavan then forwarded the resignation to state Governor K Sankarnarayanan, who has also accepted the same.

Chavan met the Governor this morning and handed over Pawar`s resignation.

After accepting the resignation of Ajit Pawar, who was
holding the charge of Finance, Planning and Energy, the governor agreed to the request of Chavan to allocate the portfolio of Finance and Planning (additional charge) to Jayant Patil, the minister for Rural Development.

The additional charge of the Department of Energy was given to Rajesh Tope, the minister for Higher and Technical Education.

The decision was taken after Chavan called on the governor. The meeting between the two lasted for an hour, the spokesperson said.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had decided to accept the resignation of strongman Ajit Pawar on Friday evening. NCP chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, while announcing his verdict, rejected the offer of resignation by 19 other ministers from the Maharashtra government.

Ajit Pawar, 53, abruptly quit the cabinet on Tuesday evening amid allegations of having arbitrarily doled out irrigation contracts worth over Rs 20,000 crore as the water resources minister (1999-2009).
All 19 NCP ministers in the cabinet also followed suit and offered their resignation to state party chief Madhukarrao Pichhad, sparking off a political crisis.

Sharad Pawar`s announcement brought relief to its ally the Congress, which had virtually retreated into a shell the past three days.

On Friday evening, a smiling state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said there would not be any adverse impact of Ajit Pawar`s resignation on the 13-year-old Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra.

"He (Ajit Pawar) had made it clear while resigning that he would keep away from all posts till he is cleared of all charges against him," Thakre told the media after Sharad Pawar`s announcement.

Even the dozen independent legislators who had threatened to withdraw support to the government if Ajit Pawar quit softened their stand.

"He (Ajit Pawar) will continue to be the NCP legislature party leader, so we are with him," said one such legislator, Dilip Sopal.

Earlier, at a meeting of party legislators attended by the uncle-nephew duo, Ajit Pawar justified his decision saying he did not want to create any hindrances in any probe pertaining to the irrigation department.

"I have always worked for the best interests of the party and have always carried out the tasks demanded by the legislators," Ajit Pawar said, amidst a thunderous roar of `ayes` by the gathering.

In his typical style, Sharad Pawar neatly sidestepped all rumours of a rift in the Pawar family involving himself, daughter Supriya Sule, MP, and nephew Ajit.

"All the decisions were taken unanimously, so your speculation of `Pawar versus Pawar` are dashed," he said with a grin.

However, he urged the Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to bring out a `white paper` on the state irrigation scenario.

"We fully support this initiative and want that it should be brought out as early as possible," Sharad Pawar said.

A days after the crisis was triggered by Ajit Pawar`s resignation, amid a show of strength by his supporters, the NCP urged him to withdraw his resignation and authorised Sharad Pawar to take a final call.

(With IANS inputs)