A blow came in the form of Chavan’s decision to expose alleged financial irregularities and mismanagement in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, which was controlled by Ajit Pawar. Through their clout in the apex cooperative bank, the Pawars had been controlling politics in rural Maharashtra. The chief minister’s move led to intervention by the RBI and the appointment of administrators.
In 2011, Chavan again hit the NCP by cracking down on corruption in irrigation, a sector under the department of water resources that had had Ajit Pawar as minister for 10 years. Ajit Pawar was no longer in charge when the crackdown came, having relinquished the portfolio after being made deputy chief minister in 2010, but he continued to have a say in the department now headed by his aide Sunil Tatkare. At least half a dozen cases relating to the Rs-70,000-crore came are under litigation.
Chavan and Sharad Pawar would speak on the phone and discuss developments in the state. At times, one would make a caustic remark at the other before they would patch up through coordination committee meetings.
What has bothered Pawar now is Chavan’s dominant role in deciding projects relating to departments controlled by the NCP. Chavan has put on hold a PWD project to extend the Bandra-Worli Sea Link to Nariman Point, though he has consented to a Rs-9,000-crore coastal road project by Maharashtra Metropolitan Regional Development Authority, which he controls.
PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal has often complained how “infrastructure committee meetings remain inconclusive”. NCP spokesperson Nawab Mulik said, “Delegations of industrialists or of the agriculture sector meet Pawar regularly and complain against Chavan’s indecisiveness. Why would anybody invest in a state where decisions are delayed indefinitely?”
The NCP estimates 144 files relating to public welfare are on hold. These include projects cleared in the cabinet.
Home is among the key departments in which NCP leaders resent Chavan’s assuming a decision-making role. It is held by R R Patil. Whenever Chavan has said, “The home department in any state should be with the chief minister,” NCP leaders have suggested Chavan hand over his urban development portfolio in exchange.
Pawar and Chavan are also battling over seat shares for 2014. Pawar sent union minister Praful Patel to seal a sharing formula — 22 out of 48 for the NCP, the remaining 26 for the Congress — but Chavan wants 19-29. Pawar reckons he needs 10 to 12 to retain