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NCP to keep deputy CM post vacant

Chair reserved for Ajit Pawar, says Praful Patel Chavan set to meet UPA and Congress members today

Sanjay Jog  |  Mumbai 

The political crisis in Maharashtra, following Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) veteran Ajit Pawar’s resignation as the deputy chief minister, has reached Delhi.

The issue would come up for discussion at the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s coordination committee tomorrow in the national capital. Meanwhile, members of the Congress’ legislative wing would meet at Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s residence tomorrow morning. The members are expected to reaffirm their confidence in Chavan’s leadership. The Congress is also expected to indicate that it would not succumb to NCP’s pressure tactics. Party sources said the crisis would be over by the end of the week.

NCP veteran and Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said the party would not fill the deputy chief minister’s post. Patel has also clarified Ajit Pawar is, was and will be the leader of NCP in Maharashtra and it is up to him to assume the deputy chief minister’s post whenever he desires.

NCP’s legislative wing today unanimously passed a one-line resolution, requesting Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation. The leaders also appealed to party President Sharad Pawar to give them an opportunity to plead their case. Pawar has agreed to meet them on Friday.

Ajit Pawar has decided to stick to his decision to quit after allegations of irregularities in an irrigation scam. NCP insiders said Ajit Pawar would not withdraw his resignation but would tour the state extensively to strengthen the party ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections.

A senior Congress national executive committee leader, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard: “The UPA co-ordination committee will discuss issues relating to diesel price hike, FDI (foreign direct investment) in retail; and in addition to that Maharashtra’s political development will come for discussion. There is no danger to the Congress-NCP coalition government in the state as NCP chief and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has reiterated that NCP would continue to be with the UPA at the Centre and will be part of the Congress-led government in the state. The NCP leader has also said his party has no intention to destablise the Maharashtra government.”

Congress has left it to the party high command to decide a course of action.

State NCP chief Madhukar Pichad said the party was optimistic that Ajit Pawar will withdraw his resignation. “The party has not taken any decision in this regard. As of now, Ajit Pawar has forwarded his resignation to the chief minister,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar reiterated that his party would continue to support the Congress in Maharashtra and at the Centre. Addressing a press conference in Kolkata, the NCP chief said he did not want to destabilise the government either in the Centre or state.

When asked if he wanted a leadership change in Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar said it was up to the Congress to decide if it wanted to continue with Prithviraj Chavan as the Chief Minister.

On the resignation of Ajit Pawar, the agriculture minister said his nephew had taken the “right decision”.

First Published: Thu, September 27 2012. 00:16 IST