Unease in Congress over Rane's role in Jaitapur

A large section in the Congress as also the NCP wants chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to be seen in complete charge of efforts to defuse the situation obtaining in Jaitapur after April 18 police firing on protesters which claimed one life and to dispel the impression that industries minister Rane was party's pointsman for the project.

Rane, a former Maharashtra chief minister, who quit the Sena in 2005 to join Congress, has been accused by the Opposition of "orchestrating atrocities" on the locals reluctant to part with their land for the project.

"Rane used the government machinery to put down popular protests against the project and orchestrated atrocities against those opposed to it," senior Sena leader and MLA Subhash Desai said.

"Locals were bound to get angry when those protesting against the project are threatened and their protests stifled with force," said Sanjay Raut, editor of party mouthpiece "Saamna" and Sena Rajya Sabha member.

The death in police firing and a successful bandh called by the Sena the next day prompted Minister of Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh to issue a statement in which he said that public concern over Jaitapur was genuine and even suggested a "pause" for the project till a transparent atomic policy is formulated.

"We cannot abandon the project. But I am neither pleading reversal or fast progression as a pause is the best option till a transparent nuclear policy is formulated", Ramesh said.

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