Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar on Friday said that he would take on the opposition BJP on any charges levelled against him, including his link to the over Rs.70,000 crore irrigation scam in the state.
In an interaction with the Business Standard newspaper soon after his re-induction in the Maharashtra Cabinet this morning, Pawar said he had every right to return to the office of deputy chief minister in the wake of a White Paper clearing him of all charges of collusion in the irrigation scam.
Rejecting the view that there were a couple of petitions related to the irrigation scam pending in several courts, he said: " Let me tell you one thing, the 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."
He said that he had taken the step to quit office on his own and without anyone's advice.
"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 percent in irrigation potential and not merely 0.1 percent 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," said Pawar.
Asked what his priorities would now be, Pawar said: "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." (ANI with inputs)