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Ajit Pawar reinducted in Maha cabinet

Mumbai: A week after a government white paper on irrigation gave Ajit Pawar a clean chit, the senior NCP leader was on Friday sworn-in as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister.
    
Pawar, the nephew of NCP president and Union Minister Sharad Pawar, was sworn in at Raj Bhawan here.
    
Governor K Sankaranarayanan administered oath of office to Pawar in the presence of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.     

Opposition Sena-BJP members, which have denounced the move, kept away from the swearing-in ceremony.
    
The dramatic announcement of resignation of Pawar on September 25, in the wake of allegations of corruption in irrigation projects, had plunged the state's Congress-NCP government into a crisis with all other 19 party ministers offering to quit.
    
Pawar, 53, had resigned after media reports alleged he had arbitrarily awarded irrigation contracts worth over Rs 20,000 crore when he was state's irrigation minister during 1999-2009, before he was elevated as deputy chief minister and handled the plum finance and energy portfolios.
    
The white paper, presented by the irrigation department to the state Cabinet on November 29, had claimed a 28 percent increase in irrigation potential in Maharashtra in the last ten years.
    
It was described as a status paper on irrigation and not an investigation report.
    
Chavan had announced a white paper on irrigation would be brought after state's economic survey report said the state's irrigation potential had risen only by 0.1 percent between 2001 and 2010.
    
All these years the irrigation portfolio was with the NCP.

Speaking to reporters after his swearing-in ceremony, Ajit Pawar claimed that he was not indicted in the white paper which was presented by the state government on November 29.
    
"Nobody asked me to resign from the post of Deputy Chief Minister. I gave the resignation so that people should not think that I was involved in drafting the white paper," Pawar said.
    
He also claimed that a lot of work has been done on the irrigation front.
    
Meanwhile, reacting to questions on PILs filed against him in connection with the alleged irrigation scam, he said, "The way in which PILs are filed in the courts, the Prime Minister, chief ministers and other ministers won't be able to work and they will have to remain out of office."

JPN/Agencies

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