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Mumbai’s slump under the Cong-NCP govt is worrying even Congressmen. Chavan must act

Written by The Indian Express | Published: April 13, 2012 3:50 am

Mumbai’s slump under the Cong-NCP govt is worrying even Congressmen. Chavan must act

It may not have been out of place for the young and tech-savvy Union minister of state for IT and communications and South Mumbai MP,Milind Deora,to take to Twitter to vent his frustration over the slow pace of decision-making and delays in key projects in the financial capital. Unlike much of the faux outrage that is often synonymous with Twitter,Deora’s decision to go public with his unease with what he called the “severe decision deficit” in Maharashtra is an indicator of how Mumbai’s slump is beginning to alarm leaders even in the Congress,part of the ruling alliance in the state.

By all accounts,Prithviraj Chavan has pressed the pause button on decision-making after taking over as chief minister. While the delay in Mumbai’s Taraporewala Aquarium makeover was the immediate provocation for Deora’s public censure of the Congress-NCP government,larger projects have also slowed to a crawl,including the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport. The same langour seems to inhibit implementation of projects that are seen to be politically contentious and those that no political party could publicly oppose. To be fair to the technocrat-politician,Maharashtra and Mumbai are minefields when it comes to governance and development,bristling with a multitude of vested interests and political lobbies. Chavan has had to negotiate his way around them,learn the ropes of his new job and,at the same time,ensure there are no new political mishaps in one of the last few giant states in the Congress kitty. He has begun taking baby steps on some infrastructure and housing projects. But the need now is to press the accelerator.

It would be naive to dismiss Deora’s ire as triggered by rivalries within the Maharashtra Congress. The fact is that Congress politics continues to bypass issues of urban governance. It appears to be fearful of even privileging the urban challenge,as if that would somehow cast it as being pro-rich. Chavan has frequently been praised for his intent and integrity by his rivals and supporters alike. But as his colleagues in Delhi have discovered,being a “clean politician” cannot be an end in itself.

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