Pawar play in London draws PMO flak

Minister attends to game matters when drought looms large

  Annoyed that the minister is away watching the T20 World Cup matches and busy at the International Cricket Council (ICC) meetings in London rather than attending to the problems thrown up by a below-normal monsoon, the Prime Minister’s Office is understood to have summoned Sharad Pawar back home at once.

 Pawar left for London around June 17 and watched a few  T20 matches. The minister is also the ICC vice-president.

He is attending the five-day ICC meetings which began on Monday. The ICC began its three-day chief executive committee meeting on June 22. It  will hold its two-day board meeting on June 25 and 26.

 It could not be confirmed whether Pawar will heed to the PMO diktat as attending the ICC board meeting would be important to him since it will decide several key issues. They include the question of whether the 2011 World Cup matches should be held in Pakistan, one of the partners in hosting the one day tournament, as well as several other cricket-tour related matters. Also, by 2011, Pawar will be president of the ICC and attending these meeting is deemed to be important for him.

 According to official sources, Pawar will return only on June 27.  The PMO is understood to be upset that at a crucial time when the agrarian crisis is looming, India’s agriculture minister is away attending to cricketing matters. However, Pawar is said to told those who are close to him that there was no need to panic because of a failed monsoon.
 The fear of a monsoon failure has raised questions of drought, food production and food security. Kharif production, which accounts for 60 per cent of food production, depends fully on monsoon which has not progressed since the last 14 days.

 The Union Agriculture Ministry has convened a meeting of agriculture secretaries of some states here on Thursday to discuss the current situation.

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