Mumbai: A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan dwelt on the difficulties in managing a coalition government, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, whose party is a ruling ally of Congress in state and Centre, on Saturday said running an alliance government was not that difficult.

"Running a coalition government is an art," Pawar, whose party is sharing power with Congress in the state since 1999, said. The Union agriculture minister was speaking here at a symposium organised to mark the birth centenary of Maharashtra's first chief minister Yashwantrao Chavan.

"Some people are saying that it is difficult to run an alliance government," Pawar said, in an apparent reference to Chavan's statement. Stating that there was no alternative to alliance governments in the present era, Pawar said, "today, there are coalition governments in 78 percent countries in the world".

Pawar cited the example of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying "with Singh at the helm, there have never been differences among us".

"I agree that there was a difference of opinion on issues like sugar and cotton export but these were resolved in a matter of half an hour after Singh called a meeting and responded positively to our suggestions," he said.

Expressing confidence that the Land Acquisition Bill, now with Parliament's standing committee, will be passed soon, Pawar said he apprehended that the "wheel of progress" may come to a standstill owing to provisions in the legislation.

"The bill provides for paying five times the market value of the land. Projects like big dams will be difficult once the bill is passed," he said. While crediting farmers of the country for achieving self-sufficiency in foodgrain production, Pawar said Maharashtra was the only state which does not produce the quantity of foodgrain it needs.

While the total land under irrigation in the country is around 40 per cent, the figure in the state is around 19 per cent, he said. Pawar also cautioned people of the state against the rising trend of "regionalism" in Maharashtra.

"A generation of leaders like Yashwantrao Chavan dreamt of a united, cohesive Maharashtra. We should not indulge in anything that may spoil the spirit," he said.

In Gujarat, Congress may be against Narendra Modi politically, but they are together when it concerned developmental issues, Pawar said. "We need such an atmosphere in Maharashtra," he added.

Despite Mumbai generating so much revenue for the exchequer, the state government was not paying adequate attention to the city, Pawar said.

(Agencies)

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