In a veiled attack on the BJP, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday said political opponents are trying to create a rift in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) over the issue of renaming Aurangabad city as Sambhajinagar. He also told reporters that the three constituents in the ruling dispensation, which comprises the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, will take a decision on this issue.
When asked about the action initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against some political leaders in Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar said the action should not be taken as a political vendetta and should be "without political intervention". "'Virodhak' (opponents) are trying to create a rift in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) over the issue of renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar. However, the three parties will sit together and take a decision on this issue," the deputy chief minister said.
Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Council Pravin Darekar of BJP asked the ruling Shiv Sena to clarify its stand on the renaming issue in view of the objection raised by the Congress, one of the constituents of the ruling dispensation. The Shiv Sena had first made the demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar after Chhatrapati Sambhaji, son of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, more than 20 years ago.
A proposal was passed in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in June 1995, which was challenged by a Congress corporator in the high court and later in the Supreme Court. As the issue came back to the forefront of the state politics some days ago, the Congress on Saturday reiterated its opposition to renaming Aurangabad even as the Sena said the name change would happen soon but the issue would not rock the coalition government.
Ajit Pawar visited Nashik on Sunday to attend a meeting to review tourism in Nashik district and north Maharashtra. On the issue of the Maratha reservation, he said, "The state government is doing its best to resolve the issue. The team of lawyers which had represented the state government in the Supreme Court when Devendra Fadanvis government was in power, is continuing the legal battle".
Ajit Pawar also dismissed reports that his son Parth Pawar will contest the by-election from Mangalwedha Assembly constituency in Solapur district. He reiterated that the state was facing a financial crunch and blamed the Central government.
When asked about the COVID-19 situation, Ajit Pawar said priority should be given to implement various measures on the health front. "The health department should work to ensure that any second wave of the pandemic does not spread and also make planning for COVID-19 vaccination," the deputy CM said.
Ajit Pawar, who also holds Finance ministry, said the budget for key departments such as public health, relief and rehabilitation, food and civil supplies and police, will not be slashed during the pandemic period.