<p>Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, both from the United Progressive Alliance ally NCP, on Thursday protested against the ‘insult’ to their party and offered to resign from the Union Cabinet.
The NCP did not attend the Cabinet meeting on Thursday. Although party leaders did not confirm that, the proximate reason was the naming of Defence Minister
A K Antony as the second in command in the government after the Prime Minister, although the party claimed Pawar’s name was above Antony’s.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi spoke to Pawar, who later drove to the Prime Minister’s residence to discuss the matter. Apparently, the party, in offering to resign, had not thought about the fate of the Maharashtra government. In the 288-member state Assembly, the Congress has 82 MLAs and the NCP 62.
For some time now, the NCP has been grumbling about the lack of coalition culture in the Congress-led UPA. The party feels it is not duly consulted, though it is one of the UPA’s faithful and reliable allies.