Saturday, March 3, 2007

Maharashtra Govt Unhappy with PMO

PMO has sought a report on Maharashtra government's claim, that requests to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for additional funds for farmers, in the ''suicide belt'' of Vidarbha, have not been processed, and that funds had to be allocated from state coffers, to prevent relief measures from grinding to a halt.
The Maharashtra government's assertion has come as a shock for PMO, and on Thursday morning, an inquiry was initiated to trace what exactly were the facts of the case.
Maharashtra government's claim has come as a surprise, not the least because Maharastra is Congress-ruled, and its affidavit in Supreme Court, accused PMO of dragging its feet over the request for additional funds.
In its affidavit, Maharashtra government has said Rs 50 lakh was placed at the disposal of Six District Collectors in August, 2006.
''This amount has been disbursed to needy families and state government has been requesting PMO for additional funds.
State has even earmarked Rs 1.80 crore for the Chief Minister's Fund, with a view to keep the scheme running which otherwise (may have) had to be stopped for delay in receiving grants from PMO,'' the affidavit states.
The charge is hotly contested by PMO sources who said that an application may have been pending, but there has been no delay to warrant a claim by Maharashtra government that funds for distressed farmers were not being made available. The initial sum of Rs 3 crore was only a part of a large package and releasing a similar amount again was not a bother for Centre.
Given the politically sensitive nature of the case relating to suicide deaths of farmers being heard in Supreme Court, PMO has asked for a ''thorough report'' into the matter.
Maharashtra's claim may even be contested in court, but given that the PM had himself travelled to Vidarbha last year, and sought to intervene on behalf of the farmers, suggestion of callousness on part of his Office is seen to be embarrassing.
Some Congress sources also detect inner-party rivalries at work as criticism of the state government's response to the farming crisis has been traced to sections of PMO.
The state government's claim that PMO had been indifferent to its claims could be a way of getting back.
The incident also seems to reflect, a certain lack of regard for the PM's authority on part of the Maharashtra state government.

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