Home Minister R R Patil might have survived the consequences of the 13/7 Mumbai terror attack unlike 26/11 when he had to quit,but he seems to be headed for tough days if the moves of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar are any indication.
Pawar continued to target Patil at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday,wherein he was joined by Congress ministers Narayan Rane and Patangrao Kadam. They criticised him for complaining that police personnel were tied up in things like VIP security and presenting guard of honour to ministers when they visit district places. Pawar,his senior in the NCP,accused him of wanting to do away with age-old practices and conventions.
Pawars sentiments were endorsed by Rane and Kadam,who said providing escort to legislators and MPs or providing guard of honour to ministers went with the position of the VIP and Patil had no right to stop it. Patil tried to reason that these bring more workload on the police force,but he was told to recruit more cops instead.
Sources said Patil was at the receiving end in the Cabinet repeatedly and Pawar had taken the lead to oppose him each time,indicating that there is an increasing hostility between the two leaders. They said Pawar doing this despite the presence of Patils detractors like Rural Development Minister Jayant Patil who also hails from Patils home district Sangli in the NCP indicated difficult times ahead for the Home Minister.
Pawars hostility with Patil had reached its peak when the latter had in the special cabinet meeting held on July 14 (a day after the Mumbai blasts) blamed Pawars Finance department for not clearing the Home department proposals promptly. Pawar had criticised Patil for the remarks,followed by Jayant Patil slamming him for the handling of the Home department.
Within the party,Patils criticism of the finance department has been taken seriously. It is like challenging Pawars leadership, a senior NCP leader said,adding that he would not be surprised
if Patil is eased out of his portfolio or even dropped from the