Mumbai: State Congress chief Nana Patole’s allegation that he was kept under surveillance by intelligence agencies at the behest of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, has caused the sleeping rift among the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi partners to rise afresh. The NCP and Shiv Sena have strongly objected to Patole’s remark and told the Congress leadership that this will vitiate the atmosphere in the ruling alliance and Patole should be directed to exercise restraint. Pawar is believed to have personally spoken to the CM and expressed annoyance.
Patole, who has been repeatedly making announcements with regard to the Congress going solo in Maharashtra, in his address at the Karyaka Shivir claimed that the state government was keeping ‘an eye on his movements’ as it ‘feared’ his party’s growing influence in the state. He had further said, allies Shiv Sena and the NCP were ‘feeling as though the ground is slipping beneath their feet’.
A senior Congress minister, who was closeted with the party in-charge H K Patil, told The Free Press Journal, “Patole should stop talking the language of the BJP. He should avoid making comments that may displease the NCP and Shiv Sena. He should realise that Congress is in a supporting role and it is not in the driver’s seat. I am sure the high command has taken serious note of Patole’s statement and will ask him to show restraint to keep the alliance intact,” he observed.
NCP’s chief spokesman and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik said Patole’s claim that he was under watch was based on incomplete information. Incidentally, the home department is held by NCP veteran Dilip Walse Patil, who has already explained in the state legislature the surveillance procedure, saying the decision was taken after the approval of the additional chief secretary (home) and not by the CM or him.
Further, the NCP was furious over Patole’s statement that Deputy CM Ajit Pawar was not helping party workers, in his capacity as Pune’s guardian minister. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has already rapped Patole, saying “I do not get into these things. These are small (junior) people. Why should I speak on it? If Congress president Sonia Gandhi says something, then I will speak.”
The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, asserted that all was well in the ruling alliance. Shiv Sena leader Kishor Tiwari downplayed Patole’s outburst and said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has led the MVA government efficiently, making every effort to give justice to minorities, Dalits, tribals and other communities. “The CM has gained the support across sections and therefore, the BJP won’t be in a position to come back to power by targeting MVA government,” he noted.
This is not the first occasion that the discontent among MVA partners has surfaced. The Congress, a junior partner in the ruling alliance, has been sulking over its not being involved in running the government. Besides, Patole and Energy Minister Nitin Raut had voiced anger over the cancellation of quota in promotions in government jobs.