NERO was fiddling when Rome was in flames. That is now history. We have very much in our own country the modern avatars of Nero who are not only playing their fiddles but also rubbing salt on the wounds of countless victims of the blast caused by unknown terrorists in the financial capital of India.
The recent statements of none other than the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan starkly point to this shameless indulgence of Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the two partners of the coalition government of the State, in this post blast blame game.
The Chief Minister while talking to a TV news channel against the background of the recent bomb blasts in Mumbai that killed 19 innocent persons and maimed hundred others, sparked off a new controversy. Chavan is reported to have expressed his anguish and unhappiness over the allocation of Home portfolio to the NCP, which according to him was the major hindrance in dealing with such emergencies like July 13 blasts.
The Chief Minister said that giving Home Ministry to the NCP was a ‘blunder’ to which the NCP reacted calling the remarks as ‘unfortunate’ and against the coalition dharma. Baba, as Prithviraj Chavan is popularly known in the State, said that Congress should have staked its claim to the important portfolios like planning, home and finance. In most coalition-run governments, the key departments are with the Congress for ‘better coordination’, he explained further.
In making this statement the Chief Minister also made a veiled attack on the performance of Home Minister RR Patil, who comes from the NCP of Sharad Pawar. Patil however, did not react immediately on this comment of the Chief Minister, but he is waiting for an ‘opportune’ time to give a befitting reply to the Chief Minister.
It may be recalled that during the 26/11 blasts and bloody terrorist attacks on Mumbai, the same RR Patil, who was then the Home Minister, sparked off a controversy saying that such ‘small skirmishes’ do take place. That time, it was argued on behalf of the NCP that Patil was not well versed in Hindi and he did not mean to say so. However, he had to resign for making such a statement over the incident in which top cops like Hemant Karkare, and others were killed by the terrorists’ bullets.
Chief Minister’s statement may have come as yet another attempt to criticise the NCP and its performance in the coalition government, and may have pleased the anti-Sharad Pawar and NCP camp in the Congress, it certainly is seen as properly timed by the Chief Minister. Many a Congressmen are not happy with the functioning of the Chief Minister and they feel that Chavan’s statement was a ‘misfire’ at this time. This group believes that this is the time when the Government should have focused on combating terror acts by putting up a brave face. By making this statement the Chief Minister had exposed the differences and rivalries within the coalition partners.
The central leadership of the Congress party tried to distance itself from the controversy arising out of Chavan’s statement against the NCP. ‘This is the state-level issue, and the Chief Minister has clarified on his statement,’ the Congress sources maintained. But the message is clear that the central leadership of the party does not want to get involved in this controversy. At the same time the central leadership may be observing as to how Chavan would strike a balance between the party organisation, governance and coalition partner in days to come.
The coming days would witness the famous Ganeshotsava followed by Navaratri and Vijayadashami and Deepavali festivals. This will be followed by the local bodies elections in the state. In such an eventuality how Chavan would run the statecraft would be seen and watched not only by his own Congress party, but by the people of the state as well. This is not the first time Chavan has fired his salvo at the NCP. Earlier also he had done so in case of the State Cooperative Bank’s board dissolution case.
The obviously angered NCP has blamed the Congress party saying that this was being done in the hope to return to one party rule in Maharashtra. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, nephew of Sharad Pawar refused to comment but his ‘disturbed’ mood was visible. The NCP youth wing lashed at Congress saying that it was daydreaming of returning to power single-handedly in the state.
When the entire country is struggling against the menace of terrorism the Congress party is making a mockery of the people by letting itself caught in such self-created controversies which are unwarranted at this crucial juncture. It is immaterial at this time as to who heads the Home department. The million dollar question is does the Chief Minister understand that this is the collective responsibility of ‘his’ government and not just that of the Home or any other minister and as such if at all anyone is to be held responsible, it is you, Prithviraj Chavan. Is that clear and loud enough a message?