Undeterred by opposition's renewed attack against him, the newly sworn in Maharashtra deputy chief minister and the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar announced his move to take them head on. Speaking to Sanjay Jog, immediately after his re-induction into the Prithviraj Chavan-led cabinet, Ajit Pawar said he would concentrate on dealing with the water scarcity in various parts of the state.
How do you justify rejoining the Maharashtra cabinet especially when a couple of petitions against irrigation scam are pending in several courts?
Let me tell you one thing opposition will continue to level allegations. Anyone can file a PIL against anyone. If you say that unless the decision on a PIL comes out, the person should stay out of power, then no minister, no chief minister, even PM will be able to hold any position and work.
Still opposition has attacked you re-induction?
When the Shiv Sena-BJP government was in power during 1995 and 1999, we made allegations against it and submitted representations to the state Governor on many occasions. I had resigned on my own in September in the wake of charges if irrigation scam. It was my own decision.
But release of a white paper giving you clean chit cannot be the lone consideration for your re-induction. What is your take?
I had taken a stand to keep myself away from the council of ministers when the water resources department was preparing the white paper. The decision was also taken so as to not give any room to the opposition to level charges of interference against me during the preparation of white paper. The white paper has come out with all fact and figures, clarifying that there has been increase of 5.17% in irrigation potential and not merely 0.1% as observed in the Economic Survey. The expenditure of Rs 70,000 crore was not done at one go but it was spread over a decade.
What will be your priorities?
There is severe drought prevailing in a large number of talukas in the state. The first priority of the Maharashtra government is to help people who are facing water shortage. The opposition will never support us on such things.